(1/2516) Climatic and environmental patterns associated with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Four Corners region, United States.

To investigate climatic, spatial, temporal, and environmental patterns associated with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) cases in the Four Corners region, we collected exposure site data for HPS cases that occurred in 1993 to 1995. Cases clustered seasonally and temporally by biome type and geographic location, and exposure sites were most often found in pinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, and Great Basin desert scrub lands, at elevations of 1,800 m to 2,500 m. Environmental factors (e.g., the dramatic increase in precipitation associated with the 1992 to 1993 El Nino) may indirectly increase the risk for Sin Nombre virus exposure and therefore may be of value in designing disease prevention campaigns.  (+info)

(2/2516) Potential effects of gas hydrate on human welfare.

For almost 30 years. serious interest has been directed toward natural gas hydrate, a crystalline solid composed of water and methane, as a potential (i) energy resource, (ii) factor in global climate change, and (iii) submarine geohazard. Although each of these issues can affect human welfare, only (iii) is considered to be of immediate importance. Assessments of gas hydrate as an energy resource have often been overly optimistic, based in part on its very high methane content and on its worldwide occurrence in continental margins. Although these attributes are attractive, geologic settings, reservoir properties, and phase-equilibria considerations diminish the energy resource potential of natural gas hydrate. The possible role of gas hydrate in global climate change has been often overstated. Although methane is a "greenhouse" gas in the atmosphere, much methane from dissociated gas hydrate may never reach the atmosphere, but rather may be converted to carbon dioxide and sequestered by the hydrosphere/biosphere before reaching the atmosphere. Thus, methane from gas hydrate may have little opportunity to affect global climate change. However, submarine geohazards (such as sediment instabilities and slope failures on local and regional scales, leading to debris flows, slumps, slides, and possible tsunamis) caused by gas-hydrate dissociation are of immediate and increasing importance as humankind moves to exploit seabed resources in ever-deepening waters of coastal oceans. The vulnerability of gas hydrate to temperature and sea level changes enhances the instability of deep-water oceanic sediments, and thus human activities and installations in this setting can be affected.  (+info)

(3/2516) Environmental variation shapes sexual dimorphism in red deer.

Sexual dimorphism results from dichotomous selection on male and female strategies of growth in relation to reproduction. In polygynous mammals, these strategies reflect sexual selection on males for access to females and competitive selection on females for access to food. Consequently, in such species, males display rapid early growth to large adult size, whereas females invest in condition and early sexual maturity at the expense of size. Hence, the magnitude of adult size dimorphism should be susceptible to divergence of the sexes in response to environmental factors differentially influencing their growth to reproduction. We show that divergent growth of male and female red deer after 32 years of winter warming and 15 years of contemporaneously earlier plant phenology support this prediction. In response to warmer climate during their early development, males grew more rapidly and increased in size, while female size declined. Conversely, females, but not males, responded to earlier plant phenology with increased investment in condition and earlier reproduction. Accordingly, adult size dimorphism increased in relation to warmer climate, whereas it declined in relation to forage quality. Thus, the evolutionary trajectories of growth related to reproduction in the sexes (i) originate from sexual and competitive selection, (ii) produce sexual size dimorphism, and (iii) are molded by environmental variation.  (+info)

(4/2516) Deriving meteorological variables across Africa for the study and control of vector-borne disease: a comparison of remote sensing and spatial interpolation of climate.

This paper presents the results of an investigation into the utility of remote sensing (RS) using meteorological satellites sensors and spatial interpolation (SI) of data from meteorological stations, for the prediction of spatial variation in monthly climate across continental Africa in 1990. Information from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) polar-orbiting meteorological satellites was used to estimate land surface temperature (LST) and atmospheric moisture. Cold cloud duration (CCD) data derived from the High Resolution Radiometer (HRR) on-board the European Meteorological Satellite programme's (EUMETSAT) Meteosat satellite series were also used as a RS proxy measurement of rainfall. Temperature, atmospheric moisture and rainfall surfaces were independently derived from SI of measurements from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) member stations of Africa. These meteorological station data were then used to test the accuracy of each methodology, so that the appropriateness of the two techniques for epidemiological research could be compared. SI was a more accurate predictor of temperature, whereas RS provided a better surrogate for rainfall; both were equally accurate at predicting atmospheric moisture. The implications of these results for mapping short and long-term climate change and hence their potential for the study and control of disease vectors are considered. Taking into account logistic and analytical problems, there were no clear conclusions regarding the optimality of either technique, but there was considerable potential for synergy.  (+info)

(5/2516) Towards a kala azar risk map for Sudan: mapping the potential distribution of Phlebotomus orientalis using digital data of environmental variables.

The need to define the geographical distribution of Phlebotomus orientalis results from its importance as the dominant vector of kala azar (visceral Iceishmaniasis) in Sudan. Recent epidermics of this disease in southern and eastern Sudan caused an estimated 100000 deaths and have renewed the impetus for defining the ecological boundaries of the vector. This information is an essential prerequisite to the production of a risk map for kala azar. This study uses data on the presence and absence of P. orientalis from 44 collecting sites across the central belt of Sudan. A logistic regression model was used to estimate the probability of the presence of P. orientalis at each collecting site as a function of climatic and environmental variables (rainfall; temperature; altitude; soil type and the satellite-derived environmental proxies - Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and Land Surface Temperature). The logistic regression model indicates mean annual maximum daily temperature and soil type as the most important ecological determinants of P. orientalis distribution. An initial risk map was created in a raster-based geographical information system which delineates the area where P. orientalis may occur. This map was then refined using a mask layer indicating the known rainfall-based boundaries of the distribution of Acacia-Balanites woodland - a woodland type known to be associated with the distribution of this vector. The predictive performance of the risk map is discussed.  (+info)

(6/2516) An integrated assessment framework for climate change and infectious diseases.

Many potential human health effects have been hypothesized to result either directly or indirectly from global climate change. Changes in the prevalence and spread of infectious diseases are some of the most widely cited potential effects of climate change, and could have significant consequences for human health as well as economic and societal impacts. These changes in disease incidence would be mediated through biologic, ecologic, sociologic, and epidemiologic processes that interact with each other and which may themselves be influenced by climate change. Although hypothesized infectious disease effects have been widely discussed, there have not yet been thorough quantitative studies addressing the many processes at work. In part this is because of the complexity of the many indirect and feedback interactions or mechanisms that bear on all aspects of the climate issue. It also results from the difficulty of including the multitude of always-changing determinants of these diseases. This paper proposes a framework for an integrated assessment of the impacts of climate change on infectious diseases. The framework allows identification of potentially important indirect interactions or mechanisms, identification of important research gaps, and a means of integrating targeted research from a variety of disciplines into an enhanced understanding of the whole system.  (+info)

(7/2516) Malaria reemergence in the Peruvian Amazon region.

Epidemic malaria has rapidly emerged in Loreto Department, in the Peruvian Amazon region. Peru reports the second highest number of malaria cases in South America (after Brazil), most from Loreto. From 1992 to 1997, malaria increased 50-fold in Loreto but only fourfold in Peru. Plasmodium falciparum infection, which has increased at a faster rate than P. vivax infection in the last 3 years, became the dominant Plasmodium infection in the highest transmission areas in the 1997 rainy season. The vector Anopheles darlingi has also increased during this epidemic in Loreto. Moreover, chloroquine and pyrimethamine-sulfadoxine drug-resistant P. falciparum strains have emerged, which require development of efficacious focal drug treatment schemes.  (+info)

(8/2516) Public health consequences of global climate change in the United States--some regions may suffer disproportionately.

Current risk assessments of the likely regional health impacts of global climate change (GCC) are hindered by two factors. First, dose-response relationships between weather parameters and many of the likely health effects have not been developed, and second, reliable estimates of future regional climates across the United States are still beyond the scope of current modeling efforts. Consequently, probabilistic risk estimates of most of the likely regional health impacts of GCC have such a high degree of uncertainty that their usefulness to health officials dealing with regional issues is very limited. With the numerous pressures on today's health care systems, it is understandable that the possible consequences of GCC have received scant attention from regional health care decision makers. Indeed, the consensus among this community appears to be that any increases in health effects associated with GCC will be easily handled by the current health care system. However, such a position may be naive as the potential exists that an unequal distribution of such effects could overwhelm some regions, whereas others may feel little or no impact. This review of the likely regional impacts of GCC has been structured as a semianalytical look at this issue of distributional effects. Because of the lack of dose-response information and reliable estimates of future regional climates, however, it takes a historical perspective. That is, it assumes that the quality and quantity of health risks a region faces under GCC will be directly related to its recent history of health risks from warm weather/climate-related diseases as well as to the size, characteristics, and distribution of the sensitive subpopulations currently residing within its borders. The approach is semiquantitative; however, it uses national data gathered on a regional level and as such should only be used to generate a hypothesis rather than test it. When applied to the United States, its outcome leads to the hypothesis that if indeed history repeats itself, some states or regions may be more greatly affected by GCC than others, not only because historically they are more prone to summer weather/climate-related diseases, but also because they contain a greater proportion of the sensitive subpopulations in the United States.  (+info)