, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 489-495

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Climate Change and the Geographic Distribution of Infectious Diseases

  • Joshua RosenthalAffiliated withDivision of International Training and Research, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health Email author 


Our ability to predict the effects of climate change on the spread of infectious diseases is in its infancy. Numerous, and in some cases conflicting, predictions have been developed, principally based on models of biological processes or mapping of current and historical disease statistics. Current debates on whether climate change, relative to socioeconomic determinants, will be a major influence on human disease distributions are useful to help identify research needs but are probably artificially polarized. We have at least identified many of the critical geophysical constraints, transport opportunities, biotic requirements for some disease systems, and some of the socioeconomic factors that govern the process of migration and establishment of parasites and pathogens. Furthermore, we are beginning to develop a mechanistic understanding of many of these variables at specific sites. Better predictive understanding will emerge in the coming years from analyses regarding how these variables interact with each other.


Climate models disease spread biological models mapping disease socioeconomic conditions prediction