Projections of Climate Impacts on Vector-Borne Diseases and Valley Fever in Arizona

Project Dates

In a changing climate, estimating future disease risk may inform adaptation planning. The abundance (how many) and distribution (where they occur) of mosquitoes are dictated by the climate they experience. Projecting vector-borne disease burden requires quantitative estimates of how the vectors, hosts, and virus currently respond to climate stressors and estimates of how they will respond and adapt to future climate stressors. Most of the work in projecting future vector-borne disease risk is there for limited to the expected responses of the vector (i.e., modeling entomologic risk rather than disease occurrence) because vectors can be reared in the laboratory under constant temperatures and their development rates recorded.

Phase 1 of this project included conducting a vulnerability assessment for Arizona residents to climate change related impacts from vector borne diseases and Valley Fever. This effort supported the Arizona Department of Health Services Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) program.

In Phase 2, we are applying future climate to the empirically derived development rates, to project future vector abundance. By limiting the discussion to changes in entomologic risk, we focus on the piece of the puzzle with the most quantitative data available. While tools exist to confidently model mosquito abundance in response to climate, without being able to model human behavior, we are still limited in being able to predict changes in disease risk.