Forum Explores Nexus of Infectious Diseases, Climate

90 scientists from across the country gathered recently for the Yale Climate and Energy Institutes’ (YCEI) forum on the potential health threats posed by warmer temperatures and the spread and incidence of many infectious diseases.

“It’s shocking how underfunded this topic is,” Mark Pagani, professor of Geology and Geophysics and director of YCEI, said in his opening remarks at the Integration of Climate Change and Infectious Disease Research forum at Luce Hall on January 25.

Researchers from disciplines as diverse as climate science, epidemiology, disease modeling and entomology attended the unique conference, believed to be the only one of its type in the country.

The potential impact of climate change upon non-infectious health threats is fairly well studied—heat stroke, respiratory disease and consequences of extreme weather events that can be anticipated and prepared for, said Durland Fish, YSPH professor and a conference organizer along with Maria Diuk-Wasser (YSPH) and Trude Storelvmo (Geology and Geophysics).

However, there is scant information on how infectious diseases such as influenza, malaria, West Nile virus, or Lyme disease will be affected temperature fluctuations, he said. Mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease vectors are all extremely sensitive to even slight variations in climate.

The scientists discussed the extent of the field’s current knowledge and some of the barriers inhibiting further progress. Climate and health scientists from the NIH, CDC, NOAA joined the discussion on data resources and funding availability for research on infectious diseases. 

This article was submitted by Denise L Meyer on January 29, 2013.

Related People

Durland Fish

Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology (Microbial Diseases)