What Can We Do?

NCEZID has the expertise and tools to respond to this growing connection between climate change and infectious diseases.

The Division of Vector-Borne Diseases is a national and international leader in researching, preventing, and controlling the deadly germs spread by mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other vectors. It partners with state, local, and territorial health departments to detect, track, and reduce illnesses and deaths from vector-borne diseases.

Climate change and melting ice

The Arctic Investigations Program within NCEZID’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections collaborates closely with Alaska Native communities and tribal organizations, and with the health ministries of other circumpolar nations. It also conducts climate-related health surveillance and research.

Globally, climate changes affect the migration routes of humans and animals—and any infectious pathogens they may be carrying. NCEZID’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine works with partners around the world to identify these migration routes and help the affected countries strengthen their ability to quickly respond when outbreaks occur

CDC’s One Health Office helps U.S. and international partners strengthen coordination, collaboration, and communication between the human, animal, and environmental health sectors. Their goal is to help partner countries achieve optimal health outcomes, which includes addressing the effects of climate change. A One Health approach focuses on how climate changes are affecting human health, biodiversity, animal habitats and food sources, and environmental conditions such as deforestations and warming ocean temperatures.

Human activity can contaminate the environment with antibiotics, antifungals, and the organisms resistant to them, which can accelerate the development and spread of resistance. CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality and Promotion and CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Solutions Initiative emphasize a One Health approach in research to better understand resistance in the environment; the connections between resistance across health care, the community, and environment; and its impact on human health.

Changes in the environment and microorganisms are affecting the occurrence and complexity of foodborne, waterborne, and environmentally transmitted diseases. The Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases identifies and tracks infections spread by food, water, environmental, and other routes. DFWED is also one of the few public health groups in the world devoted to preventing and controlling fungal diseases. Experts work with state and local health departments and academic partners to address the spread of severe fungal diseases in the United States, and the growing threat of emerging fungal diseases domestically and globally.

The Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology protects the public’s health from some of the deadliest diseases on the planet, whether they are caused by highly lethal viruses, bacteria, prions, or unknown pathogens. The risk for some of these diseases is increasing because of climate changes. For example, thawing permafrost poses a risk to humans by potentially exposing them to anthrax spores, which can survive for decades in frozen ground. The division monitors and investigates deadly pathogens that may spread and proliferate with more severe weather events.

As climate changes, new infections may emerge that threaten human health or livelihood. The Office of Advanced Molecular Detection helps public health innovate and use new technology to detect and respond to outbreaks.