Public Health and Climate

Perspectives in Lyme Disease Modeling

Lyme disease is one of the most frequently reported vector-borne diseases in the United States with an estimated 20,000 cases per year (Bacon et al., 2008). In the United States, it was first identified in a cluster of children in Lyme, CT in 1976 (Steere, 1989). While initially diagnosed as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it was later diagnosed as Lyme arthritis, a late manifestation of tick-transmitted Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a tick-borne zoonosis caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, referred to as a spirochete. It is a multi-system inflammatory disease that first affects the

New Metric for Comparing Nations' Vulnerability to Infectious Disease

Understanding future health risks posed by infectious diseases due to anthropogenic climate change remains an important but poorly constrained challenge. It is clear that temperature and precipitation are primary drivers that determine the spatial distribution of host and vector distributions for a variety of infectious diseases. However, a unified metric or index to evaluate the vulnerability of individual countries to changes in infectious diseases had been missing, until a recent study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health…

Vector Potential and Climate Change: Perspectives From the Pitcher-plant Mosquito. William Bradshaw

William Bradshaw presents a synopsis of his primary research which is on Wyeomyia smithy, a small mosquito that develops only within the water-filled leaves of the purple pitcher plant. As described on his website: “The fact that this mosquito is capable of blood-feeding makes it tractable for studies of the molecular genetics and evolution of the blood-feeding phenotype and for investigating the shifting patterns of vector/host interactions in the face of rapid climate change.

Climate Change Health Impacts: Extreme Heat, Heat Waves and Hospitalizations

Extreme heat events are anticipated to grow in number, intensity and length of duration as the effects of climate change increase over time. Increases in events such as heat waves from climate change could have large health implications on the elderly which are the most susceptible populations. Health studies of extreme heat and heat waves have focused predominantly on mortality outcomes, which may not adequately account for the burden on the US healthcare systems like Medicare…

Land-based Climate Mitigation Strategies Could Decrease Future Heat-related Mortality

Urban centers have been warming at double the global rate the last half-century. High daily temperatures are associated with increased mortality. Sustained increases in temperatures projected under most climate models represent a significant public health problem that may increase weather-related mortality in the United States. In a first of its kind study, Stone et al., (2014) modeled how local climate…

A Case Where Climate Change Reduces Infectious Disease Transmission

One of the most feared consequences of climate warming is the potential expansion of tropical infectious diseases. However, for diseases that require intermediate hosts a warmer climate and the particular dynamics of the disease can actually reduce transmission in some cases. A recent study by Paull and Johnson describes one such scenario.  The authors examined a system in which freshwater snails are intermediate hosts for trematode…

Ecology and Evolution of Invasive Mosquito Disease Vectors. Phil Lounibos

Phil Lounibos reviews the evolutionary history and competitive displacement between two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever Mosquito) and Aedes albopictus, (Asian Tiger Mosquito), responsible for the spread of Dengue Fever and chikunguya, two of the world’s most problematic diseases.  The final third of his talk looks at a recent field study in Rio de Janeiro to consider what the impact of the competition between species is on the transmission of Dengue.

Meteorological Influences on Lyme Disease

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…

Climate Impacts on Sanitation in Botswana

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…

Using multidisciplinary complex systems methodologies to better understand the linkages between water, health and climate change in developing countries.

Jonathan Mellor uses multidisciplinary complex systems methodologies to better understand the linkages between water and health in developing world countries.  A Virginia native, he took this approach for his doctoral research working under Prof.

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