The Impact of Climate Change on Aedes aegypti Behavior in Latin America and the Caribbean

by Shannon O’Neill

Climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has impacted precipitation and temperatures, which have been associated with increases in seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever. However, such correlations are often speculative due to the complexity of interactions involved in vector-borne diseases. Researchers Chadee and Martinez (2015) focused on the adaptive behaviors of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in efforts to fill some of the research gaps typically associated with the research of these diseases. This mosquito is a successful vector for various vector-borne diseases, including dengue fever, Zika virus, and chikungunya, and has shown adaptive behaviors. This research will provide the information to create better vector control strategies that can be applied in order to limit climate change impacts on the resurgence of these diseases. Continue reading

Climate Change as a Public Health Issue

by Shannon O’Neill

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that roughly half of the world’s population is at risk of infection by vector-borne disease. Furthermore, vector-borne diseases are responsible for one-sixth of illness and disability throughout the world, killing at least one million people each year. Vector-borne diseases tend to highlight socioeconomics differences and problems, as they increase health inequalities, with developing countries having a 300 times greater mortality rate from them. These countries do not have the resources for preventative care or to manage outbreaks. Additionally, vector-borne diseases tend to paralyze health systems and substantially decrease tourism. Though some efforts to control vector-borne diseases have been quite successful, these diseases still pose a major threat to the world as re-emergence becomes more likely owing to greater organism drug resistance and other changing environmental factors. Continue reading

The Effect of Climate Change on the Ixodes Tick Success Rate of Transmitting Lyme Disease

by Shannon O’Neill

The potential for a rapid increase of the geographical distribution of ticks and tick-borne pathogens with increasing temperatures is a major public health issue. Therefore, the relationships between the tick, pathogen, hosts, and each of their environments must be better understood in order to effectively manage future outbreaks. Climate change is often considered to be a driving force of increased tick-borne disease. However, the effects of climate on disease are difficult to distinguish from other potential causes. Ostfeld and Brunner (2015) specifically studied the Ixodes tick that spreads Lyme disease in an effort to discern why this tick and the pathogens it transmits have continued to increase with warmer temperatures. The researchers first identified environmental factors for the current tick distribution, then used these factors as a predictor of future suitable tick habitats with climatic changes. Finally, they looked at how various environmental factors sustain both tick populations and the pathogens they transmit. Continue reading