Dengue fever epidemic potential as projected by general circulation models of global climate change.

J.A. Patz*, W.J.M. Martens, D.A. Fock, T.H. Jetten

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205-2179, USA.

    Climate factors influence the transmission of dengue fever, the world's most widespread vector-borne virus. We examined the potential added risk posed by global climate change on dengue transmission using computer-based simulation analysis to link temperature output from three climate general circulation models (GCMs) to a dengue vectorial capacity equation. Our outcome measure, epidemic potential, is the reciprocal of the critical mosquito density threshold of the vectorial capacity equation. An increase in epidemic potential indicates that a smaller number of mosquitoes can maintain a state of endemicity of disease where dengue virus is introduced. Baseline climate data for comparison are from 1931 to 1980. Among the three GCMs, the average projected temperature elevation was 1.16 degrees C, expected by the year 2050. All three GCMs projected a temperature-related increase in potential seasonal transmission in five selected cities, as well as an increase in global epidemic potential, with the largest area change occurring in temperate regions. For regions already at risk, the aggregate epidemic potential across the three scenarios rose on average between 31 and 47% (range, 24-74%). If climate change occurs, as many climatologists believe, this will increase the epidemic potential of dengue-carrying mosquitoes, given viral introduction and susceptible human populations. Our risk assessment suggests that increased incidence may first occur in regions bordering endemic zones in latitude or altitude. Endemic locations may be at higher risk from hemorrhagic dengue if transmission intensity increases.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-153
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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