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Environmental Triggers of Outbreaks in Seasonal Vector-borne Diseases

Date:February 12, 2013 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am EST
Location:Columbia University
Lamont Campus
Monell Building, Room 137
Contact:For further information regarding this event, please contact IRI Seminar Office by sending email to al2596@columbia.edu .

The Earth Institute's International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) is pleased to present "Environmental triggers of outbreaks in seasonal vector-borne diseases" with Michael Wimberley, Professor and Senior Scientist, South Dakota State University.

Free and open to the public.

Ongoing global climate and land cover change have raised concerns about the impacts of these trends on human health. In particular, the risk of vector-borne and zoonotic diseases will be impacted because the ecology of their vector and host species is sensitive to changes in both climate and habitat. Many of these diseases exhibit a marked seasonality that is strongly modulated by recurring patterns of temperature and precipitation. In this talk, I will explore the implications of this seasonality for mapping disease risk and forecasting disease outbreaks through two case studies: West Nile virus in the United States and epidemic malaria in the highland of Ethiopia. In both cases, outbreaks are associated with climatic signals that precede the main disease transmission season. However, these climatic sensitivities vary throughout the season, supporting a conceptual model in which outbreaks are facilitated through a cascade of environmental “triggers” occurring at different points in time. These nature and timing of these triggers also vary geographically as functions of ecological context. This conceptual model has important implications for understanding the causes of vector-borne disease epidemics and ultimately developing more effective systems for epidemic forecasting.


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