Environmental Suitability of Vibrio Infections in a Warming Climate: An Early Warning System

Environ Health Perspect. 2017 Oct 10;125(10):107004. doi: 10.1289/EHP2198.


Background: Some Vibrio spp. are pathogenic and ubiquitous in marine waters with low to moderate salinity and thrive with elevated sea surface temperature (SST).

Objectives: Our objective was to monitor and project the suitability of marine conditions for Vibrio infections under climate change scenarios.

Methods: The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) developed a platform (the ECDC Vibrio Map Viewer) to monitor the environmental suitability of coastal waters for Vibrio spp. using remotely sensed SST and salinity. A case-crossover study of Swedish cases was conducted to ascertain the relationship between SST and Vibrio infection through a conditional logistic regression. Climate change projections for Vibrio infections were developed for Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 and RCP 8.5.

Results: The ECDC Vibrio Map Viewer detected environmentally suitable areas for Vibrio spp. in the Baltic Sea in July 2014 that were accompanied by a spike in cases and one death in Sweden. The estimated exposure-response relationship for Vibrio infections at a threshold of 16°C revealed a relative risk (RR)=1.14 (95% CI: 1.02, 1.27; p=0.024) for a lag of 2 wk; the estimated risk increased successively beyond this SST threshold. Climate change projections for SST under the RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios indicate a marked upward trend during the summer months and an increase in the relative risk of these infections in the coming decades.

Conclusions: This platform can serve as an early warning system as the risk of further Vibrio infections increases in the 21st century due to climate change. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP2198.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Vibrio Infections / epidemiology*