The National Academies

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

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?

The 1918 influenza pandemic (the so-called “Spanish” flu) is estimated to have killed how many people worldwide?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.

  • Correct!

    The 1918 influenza pandemic is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide. Many of those deaths were due to the effects of pneumococcal pneumonia, a secondary complication of flu for which no antibiotics existed in 1918.