The Past, Present, and Future of Emerging Infectious Diseases in a Changing World

Presented by IoES Faculty Candidate Dr. Ryan Harrigan, Center for Tropical Research

Monday, June 9th, 2014

La Kretz Hall, Suite 300


The world is experiencing anthropogenic and climate change occurring at an unprecedented rate. With these changes comes opportunity for novel introductions and emergence of diseases to na├»ve biological communities, with both wildlife and public health impacts. West Nile virus (WNV) is one of the most prevalent flaviviruses in the world, transmitted by vectors (mosquitoes) to primary (birds) and secondary (humans) hosts. Since its introduction to North America in 1999, the disease has spread rapidly across the continent, leading to annual avian and mammalian epidemics. Using WNV as an example, I discuss the local, regional, and continental factors leading to increases in disease occurrence, and then use these relationships to develop a risk assessment under current and future climate scenarios. I conclude by highlighting how the methods developed to understand WNV risk can be applied to inform current mitigation and control strategies, and also serve as a blueprint to prepare for the emergence of other diseases that have extended their range under climate change.