Predicting disease spread based on climate change

Predicting disease spread based on climate change

Meghan Bongartz Code available at: https://github.com/mbongartz/final-project The conversation about disease in the United States tends to revolve only around those diseases which pose a current threat or problem. This means that we spend far more time on average talking about measles than Ebola – but it makes it far more terrifying when Ebola is being talked about because it means that it is suddenly posing a threat and we do not have the infrastructure to deal with an outbreak. There are some diseases that we don’t currently consider threats in the United States for which it would be difficult to predict when they could become problems due to the way they are spread. However, there are other diseases that may spread or move with climate change, and we should be able to plan for these. My goal was to investigate the risk for spread of tropical diseases in the United States as climate changes over time. There are a plethora of diseases that could be impacted by climate change for various reasons, but I narrowed my area of interest down to vector-borne diseases and, more specifically, mosquito-borne diseases because they show a stronger climate preference than some other vectors such as ticks. I looked at two different vectors: Tiger Mosquitos and Southern House Mosquitos. Before addressing the vectors, though, I needed data on the rate at which climate is changing in the United States. This was available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration here: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us. NOAA has information about temperature and precipitation since 1895 that can be downloaded in a nicely formatted CSV file; however, the type of information,...