Climate Change Bites

21 October 2021

How climate change is driving the emergence and spread of animals, human and plant diseases transmitted by insects and ticks.

About this event

Have you noticed more ticks biting you and your pets? Could midge bites go from annoying to dangerous in future? What do insects have to do with supermarket supplies of bacon and olive oil? Will popular holiday destinations become disease hotspots, and is travel making the problem worse?

Climate change, a slow ticking time bomb, altering the earth’s climate and weather, resulting in extreme, unpredictable weather systems, droughts, flooding and heatwaves. It is also one of the key factors contributing to biodiversity loss and changes in populations of native and non-native species of insects and ticks, some of which are carriers of disease-causing pathogens. These carriers are called vectors – they can spread e.g. viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites.

Climate change is already influencing the habitats, geographical distribution, longevity and life cycles of these vectors in ways that make them more likely to transmit diseases to animal, human or plant hosts.

This is contributing to vector-borne diseases becoming a major health concern across the world.

This digital event will bring together leading experts working on animal, human and plant vector biology and vector-borne diseases to jointly discuss a One Health approach to understand, predict, prevent and respond to these threats by:

  • Understanding how human, biological and environmental drivers, including climate, affect vectors and how vectors may respond in both short and evolutionary timescales
  • Modelling and measuring how climate change interacts with other factors causing new diseases to emerge, such as deforestation, agricultural intensification, and increased trade and travel. How can we use these to guide interventions?
  • Using statistical prediction models to help understand how climate change is affecting vector borne diseases. By exploring the relationship between climatic, socio-economic and demographic factors along with variations in disease risk in space and time, scientists can help society can understand the risk of transmission and target limited public health resources.

In the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is inviting you to hear from experts who will discuss the challenges and opportunities in tackling vector-borne diseases, both in the UK and globally in the context of climate change. The webinar will involve a range of perspectives linked to the impact of climate change on vector borne diseases and what we can do about them. Experts will set the scene through short presentations followed by a Q&A panel discussion giving the audience the opportunity to participate in the conversation. This event is open to all, and is suitable for a non-expert audience aged 15+.

Provisional agenda

  • 11:00-11:05 - Welcome and what we hope to achieve with this webinar - Introduction by Chair: Victoria Gill, BBC
  • 11:05-11:15 - Climate change changes the distribution of vectors of plant viruses: Plant viruses kill plants, no plants no food, no food big problem - Professor Gary Foster, University of Bristol
  • 11:15-11:25 - Climate change and vector-borne diseases: understanding ecology, ecosystems, vulnerability, and adaptation- Dr Bethan Purse, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • 11:25-11:35 - Modelling the impacts of climate change on vector borne disease transmission - Dr Rachel Lowe, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • 11:35-11:45 - Global threat of vector borne diseases in a changing environment - Dr Raman Velayudhan, World Health Organisation
  • 11:45-11:55 - The latest buzz on vector borne diseases in animals – a global overview from the OIE - Dr Tianna Brand, OIE World Organisation for Animal Health
  • 11:55-12:05 - Introduction to the wider panel
  • 12:05-12:55 - Plenary discussion – Q&A
  • 12:55-13:00 - Closing remarks


Find out more about the event and register on Eventbrite.