Implications of Projected Hydroclimatic Change for Tularemia Outbreaks in High-Risk Areas across Sweden

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 17;17(18):6786. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186786.


Hydroclimatic change may affect the range of some infectious diseases, including tularemia. Previous studies have investigated associations between tularemia incidence and climate variables, with some also establishing quantitative statistical disease models based on historical data, but studies considering future climate projections are scarce. This study has used and combined hydro-climatic projection outputs from multiple global climate models (GCMs) in phase six of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6), and site-specific, parameterized statistical tularemia models, which all imply some type of power-law scaling with preceding-year tularemia cases, to assess possible future trends in disease outbreaks for six counties across Sweden, known to include tularemia high-risk areas. Three radiative forcing (emissions) scenarios are considered for climate change projection until year 2100, incuding low (2.6 Wm-2), medium (4.5 Wm-2), and high (8.5 Wm-2) forcing. The results show highly divergent changes in future disease outbreaks among Swedish counties, depending primarily on site-specific type of the best-fit disease power-law scaling characteristics of (mostly positive, in one case negative) sub- or super-linearity. Results also show that scenarios of steeper future climate warming do not necessarily lead to steeper increase of future disease outbreaks. Along a latitudinal gradient, the likely most realistic medium climate forcing scenario indicates future disease decreases (intermittent or overall) for the relatively southern Swedish counties Örebro and Gävleborg (Ockelbo), respectively, and disease increases of considerable or high degree for the intermediate (Dalarna, Gävleborg (Ljusdal)) and more northern (Jämtland, Norrbotten; along with the more southern Värmland exception) counties, respectively.

Keywords: CMIP6 projections; Sweden; high-risk sites; hydroclimatic change; infectious disease; tularemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't