Infectious Disease

INFECTIOUS DISEASES like malaria, schistosomiasis, dengue fever, and Zika virus are responsible for large burdens of disease globally and are highly sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, including temperature, soil moisture and precipitation patterns, deforestation, dams and irrigation projects, and others. It’s an urgent priority to better understand how land management practices alter the risk of these diseases in different settings and what types of interventions can reduce exposure to these diseases. Most emerging diseases globally are zoonotic diseases (with both human and animal hosts), and clearer understanding of anthropogenic influences on the emergence of zoonotic diseases (like HIV and Ebola) is another priority in planetary health research. Given the implications for food security and livelihoods, as well as for the state of global biodiversity, animal disease is also an important subtheme of disease ecology in the planetary health research context.

Learning Objectives
L1: Understand the environment-host-pathogen disease triangle and provide examples.
L2: Explain how environmental change can change the incidence, prevalence, geographical distribution, and/or severity of infectious diseases.
L3: Describe the criteria for an infectious disease hot spot and explain their characteristics with regard to environmental change.
L4: Recognize the interface between human and animal health in the contexts of environmental change and infectious diseases.
Teaching Resources
Infectious Disease and Climate Change: Is Climate Change Responsible for the Spread of West Nile Virus?
This activity explores the connection between changing climate and West Nile Virus spread in the United States. Students will have the opportunity for basic data analysis, drafting policy recommendations, and designing monitoring plans. The activity and associated resources are provided by the Earth System Science Education Alliance.
Teaching tool

Torrents, Typhoid, and Tilapia
In this video, Dr. Aaron Jenkins presents on ecosystem approaches to mitigate disaster risk, waterborne disease, and aquatic biodiversity loss in Pacific Island water catchments. A second video (available here) showcases the Question and Answer session following his presentation.
Watch the video

Planetary Health & Environmental Epidemiology
In this graduate level course, students will study the human health impacts of accelerating environmental change through interdisciplinary approaches including environmental science, political science, and public health.
Syllabus

Simulation Exercises Teaching Clinical Skills and Knowledge of the Health Effects of Climate Change
This resource presents eleven simulation exercises. Students are eager to learn clinical skills, and existing curricula offer a range of simulated standardized patients and other active learning exercises that could be modified to provide training on climate change.
→ Simulation

Climate Change and Health
(L2, L3) Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health podcast shares an in-depth conversation about the effects of climate change and the steps we can take to reduce the damage.
→ The podcast
→ Teaching tool

Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change
This undergraduate level course will provide students with tools to identify and address real-world global environmental and urban health issues. In addition to reading and discussing subject content to assist in understanding of the issues, students will learn skills to optimize the likelihood of affecting policy change through: 1) the Health Impact Assessment framework; 2) an introduction to environmental health modeling and spatial analysis; and 3) science communication skills. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Spring 2017.
Syllabus
Teaching tool

Ecosystem Approaches to Health Teaching Manual
A teaching manual with sample modules and associated activities for teaching about health and environmental change produced by COPEH-Canada.
→ Español 
→ Français 
→ English 
→ Read more

Climate Variability, Vulnerability, and Natural Disasters: A Study of Zika Virus in Manabi, Ecuador Following the 2016 Earthquake
This research article describes an emerging epidemic of Zika virus (ZIKV) in Ecuador following the 2016 earthquake, which coincided with an exceptionally strong El Niño event. Authors hypothesize that the trigger of a natural disaster during anomalous climate conditions and underlying social vulnerabilities were force multipliers contributing to a dramatic increase in ZIKV cases post-earthquake.
Read the Article

Environmental Change and Emerging Infectious Disease
This Standford University lecture-based course focuses on the changing epidemiological environment, with particular attention to the ways in which anthropogenic environmental changes are altering the ecology of infectious disease transmission, thereby promoting their re-emergence as a public health threat.
Syllabus

Climate Information for Public Health Action 
With a focus on infectious disease, hydro-meteorological disasters and nutrition, the book explores why, when and how data on the historical, current and future (from days to decades) climate can be incorporated into health decision-making.
→ E-Book

APHA Climate Change and Health Infographics
(L2) This set of 4 infographics provide a fact-based visual summary of the pathways by which climate change affects health, focusing on rising temperatures, extreme weather, air quality and vector-borne disease.
The Infographics

Climate Change Is Killing Us
(L2, L3) This NPR Article discusses the relationship between climate change and disease-carrying insects, in the lead up to the 2015 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France.
Read more

Drought and War Heighten Threat of Not Just 1 Famine, but 4
(L2, L3, L4) In Somalia and other African countries suffering from drought and famines, lack of clean water and proper hygiene are behind massive outbreaks of communicable diseases in displaced-persons camps. Water sources that dry up in droughts cause an interlocking cycle of death more and more arrive at camps; clean water is much more important for food than survival.
Read more

The Water Project Collection
(L1, L2, L3, L4) This site provides an easy-to-navigate collection of background articles and resources to explore water scarcity and the health impacts in a range of regions (mini-case studies).
Browse the site

Toxtown
(L2, L3) Tox Town is an interactive website for students and educators to help explain and explore environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals in an imaginary city, farm, port, and town.
Browse the site

Urbanization and Health in the Developing World
(L1, L2, L3) This slidedeck provides an example of a lecture for a class on urbanization and health identifying demographic trends, emerging health problems, potential solutions and what makes a city healthy.
Teaching tool

Urbanization and its Effect on Health 
(L2, L2, L3, L4) Urbanization and its effect on global health slide-based lecture utilizing a case example of India.
Teaching tool

Predicting Lyme Disease Burden with Community Ecology
(L2, L3) A short video featuring Dr. Rick Ostfeld exploring the predictors of the burden of Lyme disease based on tick prevalence, white-footed mice survival and human activities in North America.
Watch the video

Dengue in the Landscape: A Threat to Public Health
(L2, L3, L4) This interrupted case engages students in issues contributing to the increase of dengue fever in Jamaica. The overall goal of the case is to make clear the connections between land use management and public health, specifically dengue fever.
Read more

Biodiversity and Health
(L1, L3, L4) This brief report explores the link between biodiversity and human health in medicinal contributions, food security, infectious diseases, green spaces and urban biodiversity, uncertainties and complexities, and policy implications.
Teaching tool
Research 
Articles