Mallory Harris


“Estimating the changing burden of dengue per degree of climate warming”

Anthropogenic climate change is expected to drive changes in the global burden and distribution of infectious diseases. By building from a biological understanding of mosquito thermal sensitivity, we use causal inference to estimate the relationship between temperature and dengue cases.


Describing the causal relationship between climate and vector-borne disease burden is necessary to anticipate and respond to changing risks and attribute harms to fossil fuel emissions as part of climate accountability and justice efforts. Laboratory experiments have established a nonlinear and unimodal relationship between temperature and transmission-relevant mosquito traits. However, relative transmission risk metrics cannot be translated directly into human health outcomes because of complexities and of infectious disease dynamics and the potential for additional covariates to modulate the relationship. Using a panel regression approach, we can account for spatiotemporal variation in unmeasured covariates and focus on the relationship between anomalies in both temperature and dengue cases. The estimated relationship between dengue incidence and temperature at the global level closely resembles the relevant mosquitos’ thermal performance curves. However, there is considerable country-level variation in the relationship between dengue and temperature. Overall, these findings suggest that dengue may pose a growing threat under warming to regions approaching the relatively warm thermal optima of the vectors for dengue (26-29°C).

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