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Climate Change and Vector-Borne Disease

Use the information below to help integrate climate considerations into your existing public health practice.

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Program Area: Vector-Borne Disease

Changing climate conditions will result in changes in the distribution of disease-carrying insects. Some we don't see now may gain a foothold, and they will potentially promote the spread of illnesses we currently see only in people who have traveled from other areas.

Key messages

  • Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and extreme weather events are expected to expand the geographic and seasonal distributions of vectors and vector borne diseases.
  • Climatologists project that Oregon will face droughts in the decades to come. These conditions may increase the likelihood of wildlife (such as deer, bats and rattlesnakes) moving into more populated areas in search of water and food. Drought conditions also create more stagnant water bodies that can affect mosquito populations.
  • The risk of human exposure to Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus are expected to rise as a result.

What can public health practitioners do?

  • Use popular outlets (such as social media, trailhead bulletin boards, etc.) to educate the public about protective measures and how to check for ticks.
  • Use Oregon’s syndromic surveillance system to track cases, especially in the summer months.
  • When communicating about vector-borne diseases, consider mentioning that changing climate conditions could increase the risk of exposures in Oregon.