Effects of Global Climate on Infectious Disease: The Cholera Model

TitleEffects of Global Climate on Infectious Disease: The Cholera Model
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsLipp EK, Huq A, Colwell RR
JournalClinical Microbiology ReviewsClin. Microbiol. Rev.Clinical Microbiology ReviewsClin. Microbiol. Rev.
Type of Article10.1128/CMR.15.4.757-770.2002
ISBN Number0893-8512, 1098-6618

Recently, the role of the environment and climate in disease dynamics has become a subject of increasing interest to microbiologists, clinicians, epidemiologists, and ecologists. Much of the interest has been stimulated by the growing problems of antibiotic resistance among pathogens, emergence and/or reemergence of infectious diseases worldwide, the potential of bioterrorism, and the debate concerning climate change. Cholera, caused by Vibrio cholerae, lends itself to analyses of the role of climate in infectious disease, coupled to population dynamics of pathogenic microorganisms, for several reasons. First, the disease has a historical context linking it to specific seasons and biogeographical zones. In addition, the population dynamics of V. cholerae in the environment are strongly controlled by environmental factors, such as water temperature, salinity, and the presence of copepods, which are, in turn, controlled by larger-scale climate variability. In this review, the association between plankton and V. cholerae that has been documented over the last 20 years is discussed in support of the hypothesis that cholera shares properties of a vector-borne disease. In addition, a model for environmental transmission of cholera to humans in the context of climate variability is presented. The cholera model provides a template for future research on climate-sensitive diseases, allowing definition of critical parameters and offering a means of developing more sophisticated methods for prediction of disease outbreaks.