Infectious Diseases

A mosquito is seen up close drilling into human skin

The Issue

Living in a globalized world brings unique challenges. The transportation that allows people to conveniently cross continents in under 24 hours brings with it increased health risks that were unprecedented a century ago. A person infected with a virus can hop on a plane and bring that virus across the ocean in less than a day while simultaneously infecting others heading to various destinations. Yet it is not only the migration of people that contributes to spreading disease, but the migration of other species as well. Rising temperatures allow animals and insects that require warm weather to migrate further north, bringing bacteria, viruses and parasites with them. Some species, such as ticks and mosquitos, are known to be potential carriers of disease. These species, often referred to as arthropod hosts, can bring a variety of new viruses into a region, endangering both humans and animals.

CHI Research & Action

Infectious disease is a prominent concern for researchers at CHI who are actively seeking ways to combat the spread of viral transmissions due to climate shifts. Our arbovirologists -- scientists who study the spread of disease through arthropods -- investigate the transmission of viruses by arthropod hosts and the impact these species have in spreading previously isolated viruses, like Dengue and Zika, to new regions of the globe. Recent research by CHI also analyzed the spread of COVID-19 from the perspective of preventing and slowing future transmissions of viruses from animals to humans. Studying the spread of infectious disease and learning to contain outbreaks is an essential aspect of managing the impacts of climate change.

Our Experts

Hana Akselrod
Assistant Professor of Medicine
GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences

Cindy Liu
Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health
GW Milken Institute School of Public Health

Chris Mores 
Professor of Global Health
GW Milken Institute School of Public Health