El Niño Helps Spread Bartonellosis Epidemics in Peru


  • Jiayu Zhou,

    1. Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • William K.-M. Lau,

  • Fenny M. Masuoka,

  • Richard G. Andre,

  • Judith Chamberlin,

  • Phillip Lawyer,

  • Larry W. Laughlin


The consequences of climate variability on human health, especially for poor and medically underserved populations, have received much attention in recent years. Some of the most severe health hazards induced by climate variability are epidemics of vector-borne infectious diseases. Entomologic studies have shown that insect vectors that transmit diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue, etc., are sensitive to temperature, humidity wind, and rainfall patterns, and therefore, their abundance is potentially influenced by climate variability. Because of its geographical location, the climate of tropical South America is strongly influenced by El Niño. The episodic outbreaks of various diseases in this region have been linked to the El Niño cycles. Yet, according to a report of the World Health Organization [1999], early results from South American epidemiological studies, which were based on the aggregated national disease data irrespective of the regional meteorological impacts, found no consistent correlation between the El Niño effect with the epidemics of malaria and yellow fever.