Background: Knowledge of seasonal trends in hospital-associated infection incidence may improve surveillance and help guide the design and evaluation of infection prevention interventions. We estimated seasonal variation in the frequencies of inpatient bloodstream infections (BSIs) caused by common bacterial pathogens and examined associations of monthly BSI frequencies with ambient outdoor temperature, precipitation, and humidity levels.

Methods: A database containing blood cultures from 132 U.S. hospitals collected between January 1999 and September 2006 was assembled. The database included monthly counts of inpatient blood cultures positive for several clinically important Gram-negative bacteria (Acinetobacter spp, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and Gram-positive bacteria (Enterococcus spp and Staphylococcus aureus). Monthly mean temperature, total precipitation, and mean relative humidity in the postal ZIP codes of participating hospitals were obtained from national meteorological databases.

Conclusions: Summer season and higher mean monthly outdoor temperature are associated with substantially increased frequency of BSIs, particularly among clinically important gram-negative bacteria.