Infectious Diseases in a Warming World: Using a Modified SIR Model to Investigate the Incidence Rates of Lyme Disease in the New England Area
First Faculty Advisor
Second Faculty Advisor
climate change; vector; vector-borne disease; Lyme disease; New England
The effects of climate change are global and unprecedented in scale. Public health is likely to suffer as a result of the warming climate, and one particular risk is the increase in the occurrence of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) in different regions across the world. The purpose of this project is to investigate the impact of rising temperatures on the incidence rates of Lyme disease in the New England area. Following a review of the existing literature relating to the impact of climate factors on VBDs, an SIR model modified for temperature conditions will be utilized to produce several simulated scenarios. Mean monthly temperatures were gathered for a series of 10 months around Storrs, Connecticut, with additional variables obtained or estimated based on the available literature. Analysis of the data showed that higher mean temperatures coincided with earlier onset of Lyme disease outbreaks in the New England area. Additionally, increasing the minimum average temperature alone yielded the most significant results with an outbreak of the disease occurring sooner and infecting a greater number of hosts. This information could be significant in informing how we utilize pesticides in the future.