Weather-related risk of zoonotic disease in Washington state

With funding from the UW Earthlab initiative, COHR is collaborating with the UW Center for Health and the Global Environment on making weather data for Washington state available to agencies and professionals.

That includes public health and clinical health care providers tracking the risk of zoonotic and emerging infectious diseases in our region.

A number of zoonotic diseases appear to be influenced by weather events. An example is leptospirosis, a serious bacterial infection that affects humans as well as dogs and other animals that can cause disease outbreaks after heavy storms and flooding.

Another serious zoonotic disease that appears sensitive to changes in rainfall and temperature is West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne disease that continues to cause human cases annually in the region. There is no current vaccine for people, so prevention of mosquito bites is a key strategy. Better understanding of how weather can increase risk of infected mosquitoes could help better control and detect this disease.  

This project will explore the feasibility of taking complex, large meteorological data sets and using them to make and update disease risk maps that will be useful for public health and clinical decision-making.