Bonds Lab

Warming temperatures could expose more than 1.3 billion new people to Zika virus risk by 2050 (Global Change Biology Video)

10 / 31 / 2020

In the aftermath of the 2015 pandemic of Zika virus, concerns over links between climate change and emerging arboviruses have become more pressing. Given the potential that much of the world might remain at risk from the virus, we used a previously established temperature‐dependent transmission model for Zika virus (ZIKV) to project climate change impacts on transmission suitability risk by mid‐century (a generation into the future). Based on these model predictions, in the worst‐case scenario, over 1.3 billion new people could face suitable transmission temperatures for ZIKV by 2050. The next generation will face substantially increased ZIKV transmission temperature suitability in North America and Europe, where naïve populations might be particularly vulnerable. Mitigating climate change even to moderate emissions scenarios could significantly reduce global expansion of climates suitable for ZIKV transmission, potentially protecting around 200 million people. Given these suitability risk projections, we suggest an increased priority on research establishing the immune history of vulnerable populations, modeling when and where the next ZIKV outbreak might occur, evaluating the efficacy of conventional and novel intervention measures, and increasing surveillance efforts to prevent further expansion of ZIKV.

Sadie J. Ryan, Colin J. Carlson, Blanka Tesla, Matthew H. Bonds, Calistus N. Ngonghala, Erin A. Mordecai, Leah R. Johnson, Courtney C. Murdock