UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: International EM

Title: Global Warming and Infectious Diseases

Keywords: Climate change, infectious diseases, environment (PubMed Search)

Posted: 8/17/2016 by Jon Mark Hirshon, PhD, MPH, MD
Click here to contact Jon Mark Hirshon, PhD, MPH, MD

July 2016 was the hottest month ever recorded. As the temperature of the planet continues to rise, changes in infectious disease patterns of transmission are likely to occur. Many formerly exotic diseases, such as Zika, West Nile, malaria and cholera are spreading to new areas. Some of these are now found in the United States. Below is a table (from M. L. Wilson) that exemplifies how environmental changes can impact infectious diseases.

Bottom Line: Remain vigilant for unusual infectious diseases, especially among travelers.  However recognize that many diseases have the potential to spread to the U.S., especially considering ongoing environmental changes.


Wilson, M.L., Ecology and infectious disease, in Ecosystem Change and Public Health: A Global Perspective, J.L. Aron and J.A. Patz, Editors. 2001, Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore. p. 283-324.