Current Environmental Health Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 430–438 | Cite as

Unexplored Opportunities: Use of Climate- and Weather-Driven Early Warning Systems to Reduce the Burden of Infectious Diseases

  • Cory W. MorinEmail author
  • Jan C. Semenza
  • Juli M. Trtanj
  • Gregory E. Glass
  • Christopher Boyer
  • Kristie L. Ebi
Global Environmental Health and Sustainability (W Al-Delaimy, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Global Environmental Health and Sustainability


Purpose of Review

Weather and climate influence multiple aspects of infectious disease ecology. Creating and applying early warning systems based on temperature, precipitation, and other environmental data can identify where and when outbreaks of climate-sensitive infectious diseases could occur and can be used by decision makers to allocate resources. Whether an outbreak actually occurs depends heavily on other social, political, and institutional factors.

Recent Findings

Improving the timing and confidence of seasonal climate forecasting, coupled with knowledge of exposure-response relationships, can identify prior conditions conducive to disease outbreaks weeks to months in advance of outbreaks. This information could then be used by public health professionals to improve surveillance in the most likely areas for threats. Early warning systems are well established for drought and famine. And while weather- and climate-driven early warning systems for certain diseases, such as dengue fever and cholera, are employed in some regions, this area of research is underdeveloped.


Early warning systems based on temperature, precipitation, and other environmental data provide an opportunity for early detection leading to early action and response to potential pathogen threats, thereby reducing the burden of disease when compared with passive health indicator-based surveillance systems.


Early warning systems Climate Infectious disease Forecasting 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cory W. Morin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan C. Semenza
    • 2
  • Juli M. Trtanj
    • 3
  • Gregory E. Glass
    • 4
  • Christopher Boyer
    • 1
  • Kristie L. Ebi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.European Centre for Disease Prevention and ControlSolnaSweden
  3. 3.National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationSilver SpringUSA
  4. 4.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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