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Title: Understanding and predicting effects of global environmental change on zoonotic disease
Author: Gibb, Rory James
ISNI:       0000 0004 9360 0055
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Global environmental change is increasingly recognized to influence risk of numerous zoonotic (animal-borne) infectious diseases. There is a fast-growing body of research into climate change effects on zoonotic risks, but broad-scale studies have rarely investigated how climate interacts with other key drivers, in particular land use change. Here, I evaluate effects of land use and climate on zoonotic disease risk, both generally and in a case study disease, by integrating multiple data types (ecological, epidemiological, satellite) and tools from biodiversity science, spatiotemporal epidemiology and land use modelling. First, I compile and analyse a global database of local species communities and their pathogens, and show that ecological communities in anthropogenic land uses globally are increasingly dominated by zoonotic host species, including mammalian reservoirs of globally-significant zoonoses, and that these trends are likely mediated by species traits. Second, I examine interacting effects of land, climate and socioeconomic factors on Lassa fever (LF), a neglected rodent-borne viral zoonosis that is a significant public health concern in West Africa, focusing on disease risk projection at both short (interannual) and long (multi-decadal) time horizons. In an epidemiological analysis of case surveillance time series from Nigeria, I show that present-day human LF incidence is associated with climate, agriculture and poverty, that periodic surges in LF cases are predicted by seasonal climate-vegetation dynamics, and that recent emergence trends are most likely underpinned by improving surveillance. At longer timescales, I then couple a mechanistic disease risk model with a dynamic land change model and climate projections, to show that different economic and climate policy futures (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways) may result in markedly different outcomes for LF risk and burden by 2030 and 2050 across West Africa. Finally, I synthesise the implications of these results for our understanding of the global change ecology of zoonotic disease, the epidemiology and control of LF, and for broader Planetary Health perspectives on managing zoonotic risks.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available