Potential Influence of Climate Change on Vector-borne and Zoonotic Diseases: A Review and Proposed Research Plan

James N. Mills; Kenneth L. Gage; Ali S. Khan

Disclosures

Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118(11):1507-1514. 

In This Article

An Ecosystem Approach

Over the last few decades it has become clear that effective disease prevention must consider the whole environment in which disease occurs. The maintenance of healthy people requires the maintenance of healthy ecosystems. Understanding ecosystem changes in relation to climate change will require not only a clear understanding of future changes in the physical environment but also a precise understanding of the physiological, ecological, and evolutionary responses to these changes by pathogens, vectors, and vertebrate hosts. Because of the complexity of pathogen–vector–host interactions, the multiple interactions involved, and the environment in which these interactions are occurring, studies must be multidisciplinary, long term, spatially diverse, and sufficiently replicated to provide conclusions that are reliable and generalizable. No single institution has the expertise and resources to establish multiple, intensive, long-term field monitoring programs and appropriate laboratory experiments, collect and interpret satellite images, and apply these data to the development of mathematical simulation models and forecasting tools. Collaborative partnerships among government and nongovernmental organizations and universities will have the best chance of achieving these goals. In order for broad collaborations to be most effective, mechanisms must be developed for effective communication, data sharing, and research integration among institutions and disciplines.

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