Skip to main content

Projections of increased and decreased dengue incidence under climate change

  • C. R. WILLIAMS (a1) (a2), G. MINCHAM (a1), H. FADDY (a3), E. VIENNET (a2), S. A. RITCHIE (a4) and D. HARLEY (a2)...

Dengue is the world's most prevalent mosquito-borne disease, with more than 200 million people each year becoming infected. We used a mechanistic virus transmission model to determine whether climate warming would change dengue transmission in Australia. Using two climate models each with two carbon emission scenarios, we calculated future dengue epidemic potential for the period 2046–2064. Using the ECHAM5 model, decreased dengue transmission was predicted under the A2 carbon emission scenario, whereas some increases are likely under the B1 scenario. Dengue epidemic potential may decrease under climate warming due to mosquito breeding sites becoming drier and mosquito survivorship declining. These results contradict most previous studies that use correlative models to show increased dengue transmission under climate warming. Dengue epidemiology is determined by a complex interplay between climatic, human host, and pathogen factors. It is therefore naive to assume a simple relationship between climate and incidence, and incorrect to state that climate warming will uniformly increase dengue transmission, although in general the health impacts of climate change will be negative.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr C. R. Williams, Centre for Population Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. (Email:
Hide All
1. Bhatt S, et al. The global distribution and burden of dengue. Nature 2013; 496: 504507.
2. World Health Organization. Impact of dengue ( Accessed 29 August 2013.
3. Vazquez-Prokopec GM, et al. Quantifying the spatial dimension of dengue virus epidemic spread within a tropical urban environment. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2010; 4(12): e920.
4. Knope K, Giele C. Increasing notifications of dengue in Australia related to overseas travel, 1991 to 2012. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2013; 37: E55–59.
5. Viennet E, et al. Epidemiology of dengue in a high-income country: a case study in Queensland, Australia. Parasites and Vectors 2014; 7: 379.
6. IPCC. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Core Writing Team, Pachauri R. K. and Meyer L. A., eds). IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 2014, 151 pp.
7. Bi P, et al. Climate variability and the dengue outbreak in Townsville, Queensland, 1992–93. Environmental Health 2001; 1: 54.
8. Descloux E, et al. Climate-based models for understanding and forecasting dengue epidemics. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2012; 6: e1470.
9. Bannister-Tyrrell M, et al. Weather-driven variation in dengue activity in Australia examined using a process-based modeling approach. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 2013; 88: 6572.
10. Patz JA, et al. Impact of regional climate change on human health. Nature 2005; 438, 310317.
11. Hales S, et al. Potential effect of population and climate changes on global distribution of dengue fever: an empirical model. Lancet 2002; 360: 830834.
12. Jetten TH, Focks DA. Potential changes in the distribution of dengue transmission under climate warming. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1997; 57: 285297.
13. Liu-Helmersson J, et al. Vectorial capacity of Aedes aegypti: effects of temperature and implications for global dengue epidemic potential. PLoS ONE 2014; 9: e89783.
14. Russell RC, et al. Dengue and climate change in Australia: predictions for the future should incorporate knowledge from the past. Medical Journal of Australia 2009; 190: 265268.
15. Åström C, et al. Potential distribution of dengue fever under scenarios of climate change and economic development. Ecohealth 2012; 9: 448454.
16. Focks DA, et al. A simulation model of the epidemiology of urban dengue fever: literature analysis, model development, preliminary validation, and samples of simulation results. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1995; 53: 489506.
17. Williams CR, et al. Testing the impact of virus importation rates and future climate change on dengue activity in Malaysia using a mechanistic entomology and disease model. Epidemiology and Infection 2015; 143: 28562864.
18. Williams CR, et al. Bionomic response of Aedes aegypti to two future climate change scenarios in Far North Queensland, Australia: implications for dengue outbreaks. Parasites and Vectors 2014; 7: 447.
19. Hanna J, Ritchie SA. Outbreaks of dengue in North Queensland 1990–2008. Communicable Diseases Intelligence 2009; 33: 3233.
20. Williams CR, et al. Rapid estimation of Aedes aegypti population size using simulation modeling, with a novel approach to calibration and field validation. Journal of Medical Entomology 2008; 45: 11731179.
21. Macdonald G. The Epidemiology and Control of Malaria. London: Oxford University Press, 1957.
22. Timbal B, Fernandez E, Li Z. Generalization of a statistical downscaling model to provide local climate change projections for Australia. Environmental Modelling and Software 2009; 24: 341358.
23. Perkins SE, Pitman AJ, Sisson SA. Systematic differences in future 20 year temperature extremes in AR4 model projections over Australia as a function of model skill. International Journal of Climatology 2013; 33: 11531167.
24. Morin CW, Comrie AC, Ernst KC. Climate and dengue transmission: evidence and implications. Environmental Health Perspectives 2013; 121: 12641272.
25. Williams CR, et al. The extinction of dengue through natural vulnerability of its vectors. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 2010; 4: e922.
26. Hoffmann AA, et al. Successful establishment of Wolbachia in Aedes populations to suppress dengue transmission. Nature 2011; 476: 454457.
27. McMichael AJ, Woodruff RE, Hales S. Climate change and human health: present and future risks. Lancet 2006; 367: 859869.
28. Levi JE, et al. Real-time symptomatic case of transfusion-transmitted dengue. Transfusion 2015; 55: 961964.
29. Faddy HM, et al. Implications of dengue outbreaks for blood supply, Australia. Emerging Infectious Diseases 2013; 19: 787.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
  • URL: /core/journals/epidemiology-and-infection
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Williams supplementary material
Tables S1-S2

 Word (20 KB)
20 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 22
Total number of PDF views: 185 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 805 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.