Global change and infectious disease

Principal Investigators:

Mark L. Wilson, and Leslie A. Real

A major element underlying many emerging and reemerging infectious diseases is environmental change. This may be manifested through direct and intentional landscape changes(e.g. hydroelectric dams, agricultural development projects, irrigation, urban expansion, mining, deforestation), indirect habitat changes that favor transmission (e.g. increased vector breeding sites, evolution of virulence, or enhanced contact with infectious agents), and the possibility that other indirect abiotic effects including climate change might alter the intensity or... more

Specifically, we propose to begin by analyzing two categories of infectious disease. The first is vectorborne disease. Within this category we focus on a mosquito-borne anthroponosis, human malaria, which will be analyzed using data from various sites and sources throughout the world. Time-series analysis and study of spatial patterns among cases and environmental variables will be undertaken using standard time-series and GIS-based statistical models. An attempt will be made to test hypotheses that are based in the biology of vectors, human ecological relations with the environment and each other, and climatic factors that influence transmission.

Diarrheal diseases comprise the second category. Evolutionary theory and empirical studies indicate that diarrheal diseases evolve increased or decreased virulence in response to environmental changes. Specifically, this work suggests that when waterborne routes of transmission are available natural selection will favor highly exploitative pathogen variants because in such environments the costs of exploitation are low. Even ill, immobilized hosts can act as sources of infection because fecal material is removed and washed in water that can contaminate supplies of drinking water. Conversely, if safe water supplies are provisioned, we predict pathogens to evolve toward benignity. There exists a great amount of data in the literature and in unpublished records (e.g., located in ministry of health archives) that we propose to analyze to test this prediction. Our focus in this second category will be on the bacterial agents of dysentery, because the inherent virulence of these agents varies at the species level, and the frequencies of these species in human populations spans the length of time over which water supplies have been improved (i.e., over the past century). collapse

Participants and Meetings

Working Group Participants
ActivityDatesFurther Information
Working Group4th—8th May 2003Participant List  
Working Group18th—22nd January 2004Participant List  
Working Group26th—29th September 2004Participant List  
Working Group13th—16th March 2005Participant List  
Working Group9th—12th September 2005Participant List  

Participant Contact Information

Jorge Ahumadaj.ahumada@conservation.orgUS Geological Survey (USGS)
Menno J. School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Andrew P. Dobsondobber@princeton.eduPrinceton University
Sunetra of Oxford
Simon of Oxford
Ellis McKenzieem225k@nih.govNational Institutes of Health
Leslie A. Reallreal@biology.emory.eduEmory University
Jeffrey Sachssachs@columbia.eduColumbia University
Burton H. Singersinger@princeton.eduPrinceton University
Katherine F. Smithk_smith@lifesci.ucsb.eduUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Mark L. Wilsonwilsonml@umich.eduUniversity of Michigan
M. Elizabeth Halloranmehallo@sph.emory.eduEmory University
Mercedes Pascualpascual@umich.eduUniversity of Michigan
David L. Smithsmitdave@mail.nih.govUniversity of Maryland School of Medicine
Andrew F. of Edinburgh
Mario of Oxford
Gregory E. Glassgeglass@hotmail.comJohns Hopkins University

Products: Publications, Reports, Datasets, Presentations, Visualizations

TypeProducts of NCEAS Research
Journal Article Recker, Mario; Bouma, Menno J.; Bamford, Paul; Gupta, Sunetra; Dobson, Andrew P. 2009. Assessing the burden of pregnancy-associated malaria under changing transmission settings. Malaria Journal. Vol: 8. Pages 1-11. (Online version)
Journal Article Smith, Katherine F.; Dobson, Andrew P.; McKenzie, Ellis; Real, Leslie A.; Smith, David L.; Wilson, Mark L. 2005. Ecological theory to enhance infectious disease control and public health policy. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Vol: 3(1). Pages 29-37.
"Global change and infectious disease" is project ID: 2197