International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 60, Issue 5, pp 663–675 | Cite as

Relationships between maximum temperature and heat-related illness across North Carolina, USA

  • Margaret M. SuggEmail author
  • Charles E. KonradII
  • Christopher M. Fuhrmann
Original Paper


Heat kills more people than any other weather-related event in the USA, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In North Carolina, heat-related illness accounts for over 2,000 yearly emergency department admissions. In this study, data on emergency department (ED) visits for heat-related illness (HRI) were obtained from the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool to identify spatiotemporal relationships between temperature and morbidity across six warm seasons (May–September) from 2007 to 2012. Spatiotemporal relationships are explored across different regions (e.g., coastal plain, rural) and demographics (e.g., gender, age) to determine the differential impact of heat stress on populations. This research reveals that most cases of HRI occur on days with climatologically normal temperatures (e.g., 31 to 35 °C); however, HRI rates increase substantially on days with abnormally high daily maximum temperatures (e.g., 31 to 38 °C). HRI ED visits decreased on days with extreme heat (e.g., greater than 38 °C), suggesting that populations are taking preventative measures during extreme heat and therefore mitigating heat-related illness.


Heat Heat-related illness Maximum temperature North Carolina 



This publication also developed under STAR Fellowship Assistance Agreement (no. F13D10708) awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and under the U.S. National Science Foundation through the Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement (DDRI) award (Award Number 1434202). This project was also developed with support of the Southeastern Regional Climate Center (SERCC), North Carolina State Climate Office, and the Carolinas Integrated Science Assessments (CISA). The health data was supplied by the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool (NC DETECT). NC DETECT is a statewide public health syndromic surveillance system, funded by the NC Division of Public Health (NC DPH) Federal Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant and managed through collaboration between NC DPH and UNC-CH Department of Emergency Medicine’s Carolina Center for Health Informatics. The NC DETECT Data Oversight Committee does not take responsibility for the scientific validity or accuracy of methodology, results, statistical analyses, or conclusions presented.


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Copyright information

© ISB 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and PlanningAppalachian State University BooneBooneUSA
  2. 2.Southeast Regional Climate Center, Department of GeographyUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesMississippi State UniversityMississippiUSA

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