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Review 2: "Ecological Impacts of Climate Change will Transform Public Health Priorities for Zoonotic and Vector-borne Disease"

The authors agree that this preprint is potentially informative, but that much more extensive models should be utilized due to the extreme complexity of the question and range of diseases studied.

Published onMay 20, 2024
Review 2: "Ecological Impacts of Climate Change will Transform Public Health Priorities for Zoonotic and Vector-borne Disease"
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key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Ecological impacts of climate change will transform public health priorities for zoonotic and vector-borne disease
Ecological impacts of climate change will transform public health priorities for zoonotic and vector-borne disease
Description

Abstract Climate change impacts on zoonotic/vector-borne diseases pose significant threats to humanity1 but these links are, in general, poorly understood2. Here, we project present and future geographical risk patterns for 141 infectious agents to understand likely climate change impacts, by integrating ecological models of infection hazard (climate-driven host/vector distributions and dispersal3,4) with exposure (human populations) and vulnerability (poverty prevalence). Projections until 2050, under a medium climate change (Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5), show a 9.6% mean increase in endemic area size for zoonotic/vector-borne diseases globally (n=101), with expansions common across continents and priority pathogen groups. Range shifts of host and vector animal species appear to drive higher disease risk for many areas near the poles by 2050 and beyond. Projections using lower climate change scenarios (RCP 2.6 & 4.5) indicated similar or slightly worse future population exposure trends than higher scenarios (RCP 6.0 & 8.5), possibly due to host and vector species being unable to track faster climatic changes. Socioeconomic development trajectories, Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), mediate future risk through a combination of climate and demographic change, which will disrupt current, regional patterns of disease burden. Overall, our study suggests that climate change will likely exacerbate global animal-borne disease risk, emphasising the need to consider climate change as a health threat.One Sentence Summary Climate change and socio-economic development dictate future geographical areas at risk of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases.

RR:C19 Evidence Scale rating by reviewer:

  • Potentially informative. The main claims made are not strongly justified by the methods and data, but may yield some insight. The results and conclusions of the study may resemble those from the hypothetical ideal study, but there is substantial room for doubt. Decision-makers should consider this evidence only with a thorough understanding of its weaknesses, alongside other evidence and theory. Decision-makers should not consider this actionable, unless the weaknesses are clearly understood and there is other theory and evidence to further support it.

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Review: In this preprint, the authors are reporting on a model of the changes in the distribution of a group of zoonotic vector-borne diseases, over the continents, because of the impact of climate changes according to different climate scenarios.

Looking at many diseases (141) over all continents does not make a lot of sense, given the differences into each of them in the transmission modes (with or without vectors), in the ecological niches from very small to very broad, in the number of hosts (from very few to large numbers). Further, I don't see how we can use the outcomes to make any preventive intervention. This manuscript describes a theoretical exercise which would have been much more informative if only a few diseases were included and the mechanisms of changes in the distribution of those diseases under the impact of climate change explained with proposal of mitigation measures under different climatic scenarios.

The most important finding of this paper is the predicted expansion of many diseases under the impact of climate change, but given the global approach, this information will not be helpful for prevention efforts. And further, there is no certainty of expansion for many diseases.

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