Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

The "One Health" approach to understanding climate change and infectious disease - is it enough?
Location Senate House - Montague Room
Date and Start Time 28 May, 2016 at 11:00
Sessions 1


  • Kathy Maskell (University of Reading) email
  • Claire Heffernan (University of Bristol) email

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Short Abstract

The "One Health" approach takes an holistic view of health and brings together medical, veterinary, public health and environmental communities. To what extent can this approach help us understand the influence of climate change within the complex and changing landscape of infectious disease?

Long Abstract

In recent years the emergence of a range of threats to human health originally attributed to animal pathogens such as Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Ebola have highlighted the need for a combined approach to health which recognises the interactions between human health, animal health and environmental issues. With this recognition has come the rise of the "One Health" agenda which aims to promote and improve the health of humans, animals and the environment.

In this panel we will bring together representatives from the medical, veterinary, public health and environmental communities to discuss how the "One Health" approach might be utilised more extensively as a platform to understand the impacts of climate change on infectious disease.

Increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme weather events can have complex direct and indirect effects on infectious disease. At the same time many non-climatic factors are influencing the disease landscape. For example, greater mobility of human and animal populations has the potential to expose populations to new pathogens.

It has been argued that climate change is not a single driver of disease and is better viewed as an embedded context likely to influence a range of diseases in the same landscape among resident human, livestock and wildlife hosts at the same time. We will ask how best to unlock the potential of the "One Health" approach to identify such synergies and interactions important to disease transmission at a systems level.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Biological invasions and the risk of emerging infectious zoonosis: weighting the many factors of diseases emergence by understanding geographic pathogenic systems

Authors: Héloïse Lucaccioni (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and IFRA Nigeria)  email
Pascal Handschumacher (IRD)  email
Laurent Granjon (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)  email

Short Abstract

Our contribution explores a theorical infectious risk associated with the invasion of a commensal rodent in a changing west-African periphery. Understanding the construction of geographical systems at risks through a “One Health” approach may contribute to weight the many parameters of disease risks.

Long Abstract

In Southeastern Senegal, health concerns are raised regarding the invasion of the Black Rat, a commensal species and a host of pathogens. The historical invasion of this rodent in Senegal shows the combination of both bioecological and anthropogenic factors, including climate variability. From this historical point of view, appearance and disappearance of this rodent from various ecogeographical context underlines the role of both environmental transformations and modification of links between places.

More recently, in southeastern Senegal the rodent reaches a bioclimatic interface between sahelo-soudanian/soudano-guinean areas (north/south), unequally suitable. At the same time, the current opening of this periphery leads to increased transportation flows able to carry the rat.

Geographers together with mammalogists compared trade flows and environmental conditions along this bioclimatic gradient, in order to better understand the drivers of the spatial diffusion of the rat. We demonstrate that the invasion of the rat lies among the many determinants that contribute to the construction of geographical systems.

Through this example, we provide food for thought for a "One Health" approach that can address the question of infectious diseases risks by replacing climate change at the right place and weight among the geographical systems at risks. This can be done by 1) working together with biologists and social sciences at the same spatial and temporal scales, 2) targeting study locations regarding both the relevant environmental and social dimensions, 3) distinguishing different level of the risk of infectious disease, from the spatial diffusion of a host to the transmission of pathogens.

Climate change and Infectious Disease in the Arctic: Are we opening Pandora's box?

Author: Claire Heffernan (University of Bristol)  email

Short Abstract

The presentation explores the inter-relationship between climate change and the drivers of infectious disease in the Arctic.

Long Abstract

For the estimated 9 billion humans inhabiting our globe in 2050, infectious disease is likely to remain a critical barrier to wellbeing, particularly in a rapidly warming world. Indeed, from SARs to Avian Influenza to Ebola and most recently the Zika virus outbreak there is presently a consensus that emerging infectious disease (EID) events are on the rise. Our historical approach to climate as a causal variable to infectious diseases has served us well in identifying the impact of climate on particular diseases. Viewing climate change as an embedded context, demands a shift in perspective. Therefore, in the following presentation I will explore the synergies and inter-relationships between the demographic, social and economic drivers of infectious disease using a case-study from the Arctic.

Extreme events, indicators of Planetary Health? Saiga antelope of the central Asian steppe.

Author: Richard Kock (Royal Veterinary College)  email

Short Abstract

The presentation explores the cause of the recent extreme mortality event impacting the saga antelope of Central Kazakhstan.

Long Abstract

Since the 1970s a series of extreme mortality events have been reported for saiga antelope, an ancient species of the grasslands of Asia. The most recent caused the death of 88% of the core population in Central Kazakhstan in May of 2015. The proximate disease was haemorrhagic septicaemia but the real question is what underlies or triggers this catastrophic infection and climate comes high-up on the possible co-factors. The talk will discuss the efforts to prove the proposed drivers of these events.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.