BACKGROUND: Climate influences dengue ecology by affecting vector dynamics, agent development, and mosquito/human interactions. Although these relationships are known, the impact climate change will have on transmission is unclear. Climate-driven statistical and process-based models are being used to refine our knowledge of these relationships and predict the effects of projected climate change on dengue fever occurrence, but results have been inconsistent.
OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify major climatic influences on dengue virus ecology and to evaluate the ability of climate-based dengue models to describe associations between climate and dengue, simulate outbreaks, and project the impacts of climate change.
METHODS: We reviewed the evidence for direct and indirect relationships between climate and dengue generated from laboratory studies, field studies, and statistical analyses of associations between vectors, dengue fever incidence, and climate conditions. We assessed the potential contribution of climate-driven, process-based dengue models and provide suggestions to improve their performance.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Relationships between climate variables and factors that influence dengue transmission are complex. A climate variable may increase dengue transmission potential through one aspect of the system while simultaneously decreasing transmission potential through another. This complexity may at least partly explain inconsistencies in statistical associations between dengue and climate. Process-based models can account for the complex dynamics but often omit important aspects of dengue ecology, notably virus development and host-species interactions.
CONCLUSION: Synthesizing and applying current knowledge of climatic effects on all aspects of dengue virus ecology will help direct future research and enable better projections of climate change effects on dengue incidence.
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