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What is the impact of climate change on infectious disease?


Jessica Poppy Jane Larwood

University of Oxford, GB
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The world is warming at an alarming rate; in October 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported a 1°C human-induced warming since the pre-industrial period and a current rise of 0.2°C per decade. The UN secretary-general stated that ‘climate change affects every aspect of society, from the health of the global economy, to the health of our children’. Many in the field hypothesise that the changing climate will lead to an increase in the size of vector-borne disease transmission zones, an appearance of tropical disease in temperate regions and the emergence of native species that have the capacity to transmit tropical pathogens. Although a large proportion of the discussion surrounding climate change and infectious disease focusses on malaria, concern exists surrounding other vector-borne diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease, and water-borne and respiratory infections. The true effect of climate change on infectious disease is elusive and heavily debated; a comprehensive model including not only temperature, but precipitation, humidity, and extreme weather events is needed to properly evaluate the impact of the warming climate on communicable disease. Whilst the intricacies of the climate and infectious disease is not fully understood, it is important to remember that those most vulnerable to communicable diseases are those living in poverty, so any climate induced increase in transmission will only seek to worsen the already apparent health inequality worldwide.

How to Cite: Larwood JPJ. What is the impact of climate change on infectious disease?. The British Student Doctor Journal. 2020;4(1):7–16. DOI:
Published on 31 Jan 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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