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      Local and Global Effects of Climate on Dengue Transmission in Puerto Rico

      1 , 2 , * , 3 , 2

      PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

      Public Library of Science

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          The four dengue viruses, the agents of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever in humans, are transmitted predominantly by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. The abundance and the transmission potential of Ae. aegypti are influenced by temperature and precipitation. While there is strong biological evidence for these effects, empirical studies of the relationship between climate and dengue incidence in human populations are potentially confounded by seasonal covariation and spatial heterogeneity. Using 20 years of data and a statistical approach to control for seasonality, we show a positive and statistically significant association between monthly changes in temperature and precipitation and monthly changes in dengue transmission in Puerto Rico. We also found that the strength of this association varies spatially, that this variation is associated with differences in local climate, and that this relationship is consistent with laboratory studies of the impacts of these factors on vector survival and viral replication. These results suggest the importance of temperature and precipitation in the transmission of dengue viruses and suggest a reason for their spatial heterogeneity. Thus, while dengue transmission may have a general system, its manifestation on a local scale may differ from global expectations.

          Author Summary

          Dengue viruses are a major health problem throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Because they are transmitted by mosquitoes that are sensitive to changes in rainfall and temperature, transmission intensity may be regulated by weather and climate. Laboratory studies have shown this to be biologically plausible, but studies of transmission in real-life situations have been inconclusive. Here we demonstrate that increased temperature and rainfall are associated with increased dengue transmission in subsequent months across Puerto Rico. We also show that differences in local climate within Puerto Rico can explain local differences observed in the relationship between weather and dengue transmission. This finding is important because it suggests that the determinants of transmission occur on a local level such that although dengue viruses have a basically universal transmission cycle, changes in temperature or rainfall may have diverse local effects.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Potential effect of population and climate changes on global distribution of dengue fever: an empirical model.

          Existing theoretical models of the potential effects of climate change on vector-borne diseases do not account for social factors such as population increase, or interactions between climate variables. Our aim was to investigate the potential effects of global climate change on human health, and in particular, on the transmission of vector-borne diseases. We modelled the reported global distribution of dengue fever on the basis of vapour pressure, which is a measure of humidity. We assessed changes in the geographical limits of dengue fever transmission, and in the number of people at risk of dengue by incorporating future climate change and human population projections into our model. We showed that the current geographical limits of dengue fever transmission can be modelled with 89% accuracy on the basis of long-term average vapour pressure. In 1990, almost 30% of the world population, 1.5 billion people, lived in regions where the estimated risk of dengue transmission was greater than 50%. With population and climate change projections for 2085, we estimate that about 5-6 billion people (50-60% of the projected global population) would be at risk of dengue transmission, compared with 3.5 billion people, or 35% of the population, if climate change did not happen. We conclude that climate change is likely to increase the area of land with a climate suitable for dengue fever transmission, and that if no other contributing factors were to change, a large proportion of the human population would then be put at risk.
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            Temperature-dependent development and survival rates of Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae).

            Development, growth, and survival of Culex quinquefasciatus Say and Aedes aegypti (L.) were determined at six constant temperatures (15, 20, 25, 27, 30, 34 degrees C). The Sharpe & DeMichele four-parameter model with high-temperature inhibition described the temperature-dependent median developmental rates of both mosquito species. In both species, body size generally decreased as temperature increased. Head capsule widths in all instars in both species were significantly greater at 15 than at 30-34 degrees C. Except for the third instar of Ae. aegypti, the larval body lengths in both species were significantly greater at 15 than at 34 degrees C. All instars and pupae of both species and the adults in Cx. quinquefasciatus were significantly heavier at 15 than at 27-34 degrees C. In Cx. quinquefasciatus, survival from eclosion to adult emergence was highest in the range from 20 to 30 degrees C (85-90%) and dropped drastically at 15 (38%) and 34 degrees C (42%). In Ae. aegypti, survival to adult stage was high at 20 (92%) and 27 degrees C (90%) and lowest at 15 degrees C (3%).
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              Effect of temperature on the vector efficiency of Aedes aegypti for dengue 2 virus.

              The effect of temperature on the ability of Aedes aegypti to transmit dengue (DEN) 2 virus to rhesus monkeys was assessed as a possible explanation for the seasonal variation in the incidence of dengue hemorrhagic fever in Bangkok, Thailand. In two laboratory experiments, a Bangkok strain of Ae. aegypti was allowed to feed upon viremic monkeys infected with DEN-2 virus. Blood-engorged mosquitoes were separated into two groups and retained at constant temperatures. Virus infection and transmission rates were determined for Ae. aegypti at intervals ranging from 4 to 7 days during a 25-day incubation period. Results of the first experiment for mosquitoes infected with a low dose of DEN-2 virus and maintained at 20, 24, 26, and 30 degrees C, indicated that the infection rate ranged from 25% to 75% depending on the incubation period. However, DEN-2 virus was transmitted to monkeys only by Ae. aegypti retained at 30 degrees C for 25 days. In the second experiment, the infection rate for Ae. aegypti that ingested a higher viral dose, and incubated at 26, 30, 32, and 35 degrees C ranged from 67% to 95%. DEN-2 virus was transmitted to monkeys only by mosquitoes maintained at greater than or equal to 30 degrees C. The extrinsic incubation period was 12 days for mosquitoes at 30 degrees C, and was reduced to 7 days for mosquitoes incubated at 32 degrees C and 35 degrees C. These results imply that temperature-induced variations in the vector efficiency of Ae. aegypti may be a significant determinant in the annual cyclic pattern of dengue hemorrhagic fever epidemics in Bangkok.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                February 2009
                17 February 2009
                : 3
                : 2
                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Public Domain declaration which stipulates that, once placed in the public domain, this work may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose.
                Pages: 5
                Research Article
                Ecology/Ecosystem Ecology
                Ecology/Spatial and Landscape Ecology
                Infectious Diseases/Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Infectious Diseases/Viral Infections
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Epidemiology
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Global Health
                Public Health and Epidemiology/Infectious Diseases

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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