How Will Climate Change Impact Cholera Outbreaks?

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Fariborz Nasr Azadani1, Antarpreet Jutla1, Javad Rahimikolu1, Ali S Akanda2, Anwar Hug3 and Rita R Colwell4, (1)West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, United States, (2)University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, United States, (3)University of Maryland's School of Public Health, Maryland, United States, (4)University of Maryland College Park, Centre for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, College Park, MD, United States
Environmental parameters associated with cholera are well documented. However, cholera continues to be a global public health threat. Uncertainty in defining environmental processes affecting growth and multiplication of the cholera bacteria can be affected significantly by changing climate at different temporal and spatial scales, either through amplification of the hydroclimatic cycle or by enhanced variability of large scale geophysical processes. Endemic cholera in the Bengal Delta region of South Asia has a unique pattern of two seasonal peaks and there are associated with asymmetric and episodic variability in river discharge. The first cholera outbreak in spring is related with intrusion of bacteria laden coastal seawater during low river discharge. Cholera occurring during the fall season is hypothesized to be associated with high river discharge related to a cross-contamination of water resources and, therefore, a second wave of disease, a phenomenon characteristic primarily in the inland regions. Because of difficulties in establishing linkage between coarse resolutions of the Global Climate Model (GCM) output and localized disease outbreaks, the impact of climate change on diarrheal disease has not been explored. Here using the downscaling method of Support Vector Machines from HADCM3 and ECHAM models, we show how cholera outbreak patterns are changing in the Bengal Delta. Our preliminary results indicate statistically significant changes in both seasonality and magnitude in the occurrence of cholera over the next century. Endemic cholera is likely to transform into epidemic forms and new geographical areas will be at risk for cholera outbreaks.