Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecological effects of climate change include human epidemics

18.02.2003


The link between climate and cholera, a serious health problem in many parts of the world, has become stronger in recent decades, according to a University of Michigan scientist who takes an ecological approach to understanding disease patterns. Mercedes Pascual, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, discussed her work during a symposium Feb. 17 on the ecology of infectious diseases at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.



In work published over the past three years, Pascual and coworkers at the University of Barcelona and the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh found evidence that El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a major source of climate variability from year to year, influences cycles of cholera. They looked initially at climate and disease data from Bangladesh for the past two decades; more recently they compared those results with data from Bangladesh for the periods 1893-1920 and 1920-1940 to see whether the coupling between climate variability and cholera cycles has become stronger in recent decades. Their examination of the data, which relied on a suite of techniques called time series analysis, suggests that it has.

"We had known that ENSO plays a role in the variability of cholera, but our work revealed that the role of ENSO has intensified," says Pascual, who was named one of "The 50 Most Important Women in Science" by Discover magazine in November 2002. What’s more, the link is strongest during ENSO events, with cholera increasing after warm events and decreasing after cold events. In the years between events, the climate-cholera link breaks down.


With predictions that ENSO will become stronger and more variable in coming years under a global warming scenario, understanding how its connection to human disease changes will be increasingly important, says Pascual. Often, it’s difficult to tell whether disease cycles are driven by environmental factors or by processes intrinsic to disease transmission. Pascual and coworkers recently developed a method that makes it possible to distinguish between the two possibilities.

Pascual says her work is just one example of how principles and tools of ecology and evolutionary biology can aid understanding of disease patterns. For example, using techniques developed to study the movement of species or populations, researchers are studying the spread of diseases such as rabies. In addition, interactions among diseases can be analyzed similarly to interactions among species. And even such classic ecological subjects as competition have applications to disease, Pascual said. "When you have diseases that share hosts, it’s similar to having species that compete for a resource. One big question is how do they coexist?"

Another sign of growing interest in the ecology and evolutionary biology of disease is the trend for universities to offer courses on the subject, said Pascual, who is co-teaching a new undergraduate course, Evolutionary Biology and Human Disease, at the University of Michigan this semester.


The University of Michigan
News Service
412 Maynard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1399

Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
Phone: (734) 647-1853
E-mail: rossflan@umich.edu

Nancy Ross-Flanigan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu/~newsinfo

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University

nachricht The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>