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Local and Global Effects of Climate on Dengue Transmission in Puerto Rico

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000382

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Abstract:

The four dengue viruses, the agents of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever in humans, are transmitted predominantly by the mosquito Aedes aegypti. The abundance and the transmission potential of Ae. aegypti are influenced by temperature and precipitation. While there is strong biological evidence for these effects, empirical studies of the relationship between climate and dengue incidence in human populations are potentially confounded by seasonal covariation and spatial heterogeneity. Using 20 years of data and a statistical approach to control for seasonality, we show a positive and statistically significant association between monthly changes in temperature and precipitation and monthly changes in dengue transmission in Puerto Rico. We also found that the strength of this association varies spatially, that this variation is associated with differences in local climate, and that this relationship is consistent with laboratory studies of the impacts of these factors on vector survival and viral replication. These results suggest the importance of temperature and precipitation in the transmission of dengue viruses and suggest a reason for their spatial heterogeneity. Thus, while dengue transmission may have a general system, its manifestation on a local scale may differ from global expectations.

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