The impact of climate on the disease dynamics of cholera


Corresponding author and reprint requests: K. Koelle, Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA


The size of infectious disease outbreaks frequently depends on climate influences as well as on the level of immunity in the host population. This is particularly the case with vectorborne and waterborne diseases, for which pathogen transmissibility critically depends on ecological conditions. Here, a mathematical model that was applied to the bacterium Vibrio cholerae to understand its disease dynamics in Bangladesh is reviewed. When interfaced with empirical case data on cholera, the model shows that climate plays a pivotal role in modulating the size of outbreaks, with local, regional, and global indices of climate variability showing a link with pathogen transmissibility. Furthermore, the incidence of cholera may occasionally be surprisingly low at times when climate seems to favour cholera transmission.