The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

Under the Weather: Climate, Ecosystems, and Infectious Disease (2001)

Since the dawn of medical science, people have recognized connections between a change in the weather and the appearance of epidemic disease. With today's technology, some hope that it will be possible to build models for predicting the emergence and spread of many infectious diseases based on climate and weather forecasts. However, separating the effects of climate from other effects presents a tremendous scientific challenge. Can we use climate and weather forecasts to predict infectious disease outbreaks? Can the field of public health advance from "surveillance and response" to "prediction and prevention?" And perhaps the most important question of all: Can we predict how global warming will affect the emergence and transmission of infectious disease agents around the world?

Under the Weatherevaluates our current understanding of the linkages among climate, ecosystems, and infectious disease; it then goes a step further and outlines the research needed to improve our understanding of these linkages. The book also examines the potential for using climate forecasts and ecological observations to help predict infectious disease outbreaks, identifies the necessary components for an epidemic early warning system, and reviews lessons learned from the use of climate forecasts in other realms of human activity.

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What do you know about infectious disease?

True or False: Washing your hands with soaps that have residue-producing antibacterial products, such as those containing the chemical triclosan, have been proven to confer health benefits.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.

  • Correct!

    Washing with regular soap is considered the most important way to prevent disease transmission. Routine consumer use of residue-producing antibacterial products has no added benefit and may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.