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Calling for an ecological approach to studying climate change and infectious diseases

January 1, 2009

My Concepts and Synthesis paper (Lafferty 2009),which inspired this Forum, echoed the premise that earlyreviews about climate change exaggerated claims thatinfectious diseases will increase in the future (Randolph2009). The paper sparked five well-reasoned commen-taries from ecologists with considerable expertise ininfectious diseases (Dobson 2009, Harvell et al. 2009,Ostfeld 2009, Pascual and Bouma 2009, Randolph2009). These reviews illustrate several examples andcase studies which corr elate i ncreases in infectiousdisease with existing climate variation, though alterna-tive explanations exist for many of these patterns(Dobson 2009, Harvell et al. 2009, Ostfeld 2009, Pascualand Bouma 2009, Randolph 2009). A common messageis that an ecological approach is increasingly relevant tothe challenging topic of infectious disease.