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Assessing Climate-Driven Zoonotic Disease Risk in Washington State

Zoonotic diseases (infections crossing between animals and humans) make up the majority of emerging infectious diseases and have been linked with socio-economic, environmental, and ecological conditions. In Washington state, diseases such as West Nile virus, valley fever, hantavirus, and leptospirosis are a significant concern. This project explores the relationships between climate conditions and these climate-sensitive disease threats to community health in Washington. 

The development and testing of these models and maps involve UW faculty and students in multiple UW Schools and Colleges (College of the Environment and School of Public Health) and Departments, as well as professionals in the Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH). This collaboration is representative of both the increasing recognition of the threat posed by climate change and the impact that weather has on human health. Furthermore, it addresses the existing challenge of translating climate and health research into actionable information.

A project goal includes generating seasonal maps that identify high-risk conditions for each pathogen, which can be an important tool for determining, managing and preventing risk of human and animal infections.

Research Team

Cory Morin

Principal Investigator, Department of Global Health

Nicholas Bond

Washington State Climatologist

Karin Bumbaco

Assistant State Climatologist