Climate change and vector-borne diseases of public health significance

FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2017 Oct 16;364(19). doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnx186.


There has been much debate as to whether or not climate change will have, or has had, any significant effect on risk from vector-borne diseases. The debate on the former has focused on the degree to which occurrence and levels of risk of vector-borne diseases are determined by climate-dependent or independent factors, while the debate on the latter has focused on whether changes in disease incidence are due to climate at all, and/or are attributable to recent climate change. Here I review possible effects of climate change on vector-borne diseases, methods used to predict these effects and the evidence to date of changes in vector-borne disease risks that can be attributed to recent climate change. Predictions have both over- and underestimated the effects of climate change. Mostly under-estimations of effects are due to a focus only on direct effects of climate on disease ecology while more distal effects on society's capacity to control and prevent vector-borne disease are ignored. There is increasing evidence for possible impacts of recent climate change on some vector-borne diseases but for the most part, observed data series are too short (or non-existent), and impacts of climate-independent factors too great, to confidently attribute changing risk to climate change.

Keywords: climate change; public health; vector-borne disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate Change*
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Disease Vectors*
  • Ecology
  • Humans
  • Public Health*