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Climate change and sugarcane expansion increase Hantavirus infection risk

Prist, Paula Ribeiro; Uriarte, Maria; de Avila Fernandes, Katia; Metzger, Jean Paul

Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome (HCPS) is a disease caused by Hantavirus, which is highly virulent for humans. High temperatures and conversion of native vegetation to agriculture, particularly sugarcane cultivation can alter abundance of rodent generalist species that serve as the principal reservoir host for HCPS, but our understanding of the compound effects of land use and climate on HCPS incidence remains limited, particularly in tropical regions. Here we rely on a Bayesian model to fill this research gap and to predict the effects of sugarcane expansion and expected changes in temperature on Hantavirus infection risk in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The sugarcane expansion scenario was based on historical data between 2000 and 2010 combined with an agro-environment zoning guideline for the sugar and ethanol industry. Future evolution of temperature anomalies was derived using 32 general circulation models from scenarios RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 (Representative greenhouse gases Concentration Pathways adopted by IPCC). Currently, the state of São Paulo has an average Hantavirus risk of 1.3%, with 6% of the 645 municipalities of the state being classified as high risk (HCPS risk ≥ 5%). Our results indicate that sugarcane expansion alone will increase average HCPS risk to 1.5%, placing 20% more people at HCPS risk. Temperature anomalies alone increase HCPS risk even more (1.6% for RCP4.5 and 1.7%, for RCP8.5), and place 31% and 34% more people at risk. Combined sugarcane and temperature increases led to the same predictions as scenarios that only included temperature. Our results demonstrate that climate change effects are likely to be more severe than those from sugarcane expansion. Forecasting disease is critical for the timely and efficient planning of operational control programs that can address the expected effects of sugarcane expansion and climate change on HCPS infection risk. The predicted spatial location of HCPS infection risks obtained here can be used to prioritize management actions and develop educational campaigns.

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Title
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0005705

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