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Environ Health Perspect. 2012 Mar;120(3):385-92. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1103805. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Mapping climate change vulnerabilities to infectious diseases in Europe.

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Office of the Chief Scientist, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Stockholm, Sweden.



The incidence, outbreak frequency, and distribution of many infectious diseases are generally expected to change as a consequence of climate change, yet there is limited regional information available to guide decision making.


We surveyed government officials designated as Competent Bodies for Scientific Advice concerning infectious diseases to examine the degree to which they are concerned about potential effects of climate change on infectious diseases, as well as their perceptions of institutional capacities in their respective countries.


In 2007 and 2009/2010, national infectious disease experts from 30 European Economic Area countries were surveyed about recent and projected infectious disease patterns in relation to climate change in their countries and the national capacity to cope with them.


A large majority of respondents agreed that climate change would affect vector-borne (86% of country representatives), food-borne (70%), water-borne (68%), and rodent-borne (68%) diseases in their countries. In addition, most indicated that institutional improvements are needed for ongoing surveillance programs (83%), collaboration with the veterinary sector (69%), management of animal disease outbreaks (66%), national monitoring and control of climate-sensitive infectious diseases (64%), health services during an infectious disease outbreak (61%), and diagnostic support during an epidemic (54%).


Expert responses were generally consistent with the peer-reviewed literature regarding the relationship between climate change and vector- and water-borne diseases, but were less so for food-borne diseases. Shortcomings in institutional capacity to manage climate change vulnerability, identified in this assessment, should be addressed in impact, vulnerability, and adaptation assessments.

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