Scrub typhus is a climate-sensitive and life-threatening vector-borne disease that poses a growing public health threat. Although the climate-epidemic associations of many vector-borne diseases have been studied for decades, the impacts of climate on scrub typhus remain poorly understood, especially in the context of global warming. Here we incorporate Chinese national surveillance data on scrub typhus from 2010 to 2019 into a climate-driven generalized additive mixed model to explain the spatiotemporal dynamics of this disease and predict how it may be affected by climate change under various representative concentration pathways (RCPs) for three future time periods (the 2030s, 2050s, and 2080s). Our results demonstrate that temperature, precipitation, and relative humidity play key roles in driving the seasonal epidemic of scrub typhus in mainland China with a 2-month lag. Our findings show that the change of projected spatiotemporal dynamics of scrub typhus will be heterogeneous and will depend on specific combinations of regional climate conditions in future climate scenarios. Our results contribute to a better understanding of spatiotemporal dynamics of scrub typhus, which can help public health authorities refine their prevention and control measures to reduce the risks resulting from climate change.
Ding F, Wang Q, Hao M, Maude RJ, John Day NP, Lai S, Chen S, Fang L, Ma T, Zheng C, Jiang D. (2022). Climate drives the spatiotemporal dynamics of scrub typhus in China. Global change biology