hydrological cycle, increasing the intensity, frequency, and duration of droughts; heavy precipitation events; and flooding (IPCC, 2007a). Such extreme weather events have been increasing (IPCC, 2007a) and have been linked to global warming (Hoyos et al., 2006). These weather events may, in turn, contribute to and increase the risk for a wide range of vector- and non-vector-borne diseases in humans, plants, and animals (IPCC, 2007b).

The projected health consequences of future climate change and extreme weather events are predominantly negative.1 The most severe impacts are expected to occur in low-income countries where adaptive capacity is weakest. Developed countries are also vulnerable to the health effects of weather extremes, as was demonstrated in 2003 when tens of thousands of Europeans died as a result of record-setting summer heat waves (Kovats and Haines, 2005). Climate change is expected to reinforce additional contributors to infectious disease emergence including global trade and transportation, land use, and human migration (IOM, 2003).

The Forum on Microbial Threats of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) held a public workshop in Washington, DC, on December 4 and 5, 2007, to explore the anticipated direct and indirect effects of global climate change and extreme weather events on infectious diseases of humans, animals, and plants and the implications of these health impacts for global and national security. Through invited presentations and discussions, invited speakers considered a range of topics related to climate change and infectious diseases, including the ecological and environmental contexts of climate and infectious diseases; direct and indirect influences of extreme weather events and climate change on infectious diseases; environmental trends and their influence on the transmission and geographic range of vector- and non-vector-borne infectious diseases; opportunities and challenges for the surveillance, prediction, and early detection of climate-related outbreaks of infectious diseases; and the international policy implications of the potentially far-reaching impacts of climate change on infectious disease.

Organization of the Workshop Summary

This workshop summary report was prepared for the Forum membership in the name of the rapporteurs and includes a collection of individually-authored


In a personal communication on June 11, 2008, Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum (WHO) stated: “Some benefits undoubtedly exist, for some populations. But I don’t know of any papers in the health literature, WHO, or otherwise that specifically focus on reviewing the benefits separate from the damages. These are usually referred to in reviews that look at the health effects overall. The health chapter of the IPCC refers to both harms and benefits, and I think this would be the best citation, and source for other studies. In IPCC (2007a), Confalonieri et al. note that the most important benefits are likely to be reduced deaths in winter at high latitudes, increased food production in high latitudes (for moderate climate change), and disruption of transmission cycles of some infectious disease in some places (e.g., where it may become too hot or dry for malaria transmission in some locations).”

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