Over the past two decades Lyme disease has emerged as the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. It is currently endemic in at least 12 states, from Virginia in the South to Maine in the North, and Minnesota and Wisconsin in the West. The majority of cases are believed to be transmitted by nymphal ticks during late spring and early summer months of June, July, and August. Control methods currently focus on the…
Worldwide, about 800 million people lack access to an improved water source. In its most basic form, an improved water supply is a well or protected spring that protects water from outside contamination. Lack of access to clean water helps explain why15% of all deaths of children under 5 worldwide are caused by diarrheal diseases. While many factors are involved, water quality and quantity…
Infectious Disease and Climate
Human-induced climate change is altering precipitation patterns in most parts of the world (Stocker et al., 2013). In the future, climate change will likely exacerbate droughts (Trenberth et al., 2014; Dai, 2012) and drastically increase the likelihood of floods throughout many parts of South America, Africa and southern Asia (Hirabayashi et al., 2013) …
Already endemic in over 110 countries, and with almost 50 million cases annually, dengue fever continues to spread. Incidences have increased almost 30-fold in the past 50 years. Although rarely fatal, the disease costs Latin America and the Caribbean around $2.1 billion annually. Being a vector-borne disease, it is spread by mosquitos that frequently lay their eggs in standing water that is common near households in many tropical countries. Previous research has shown that dengue fever exhibits seasonal patterns, which means that climate change might affect its spread.
This presentation will describe interspecific interactions and trait evolution associated with encounters in nature between Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the most important vectors of dengue and chikungunya viruses. Effects of larval competition on dengue transmission in nature will also be discussed.
Mosquito biology, especially ecology and behavior, is the focus of Phil Lounibos’s laboratory located in Vero Beach, Florida.
Climate scientists predict that climate change will lead to increased variability in precipitation over much of South America. Research by Carlton et al (2013) on residents of northwestern rural Ecuador who rely on streams and rivers for their drinking water shows how those changes might impact water quality and associated rates of diarrhea, a water-related disease which leads to approximately 1 million deaths of young children worldwide each year. The study further highlighted curious dynamics involving precipitation and water-borne disease.
How the vectors and ecology of infectious disease alter as the globe warms is one of the most poorly understood topics in climate change science, but most important for human health. Globally, infectious disease accounts for 1/3 of the 52 million people who die each year1, most of them in the lower latitudes. Recent experience with West Nile Virus in our own country reminds us how fast a new disease can spread, and the opportunities for it to do so in a warming world.
Kevin Lafferty is an ecologist with the US Geological Survey. He is also adjunct faculty at UC Santa Barbara where he helps run the ecological parasitology research group and mentors a half dozen PhD students. His research interests include how infectious diseases interact with food webs, conservation, marine ecology, human health, climate change, and biodiversity.