A novel approach for predicting risk of vector-borne disease establishment in marginal temperate environments under climate change: West Nile virus in the UK

Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Vector-borne diseases (VBDs), such as dengue, Zika, West Nile virus (WNV) and tick-borne encephalitis, account for substantial human morbidity worldwide and have expanded their range into temperate regions in recent decades. Climate change has been proposed as a likely driver of past and future expansion, however, the complex ecology of host and vector populations and their interactions with each other, environmental variables and land-use changes makes understanding the likely impacts of climate change on VBDs challenging. We present an environmentally driven, stage-structured, host–vector mathematical modelling framework to address this challenge. We apply our framework to predict the risk of WNV outbreaks in current and future UK climates. WNV is a mosquito-borne arbovirus which has expanded its range in mainland Europe in recent years.


We predict that, while risks will remain low in the coming two to three decades, the risk of WNV outbreaks in the UK will increase with projected temperature rises and outbreaks appear plausible in the latter half of this century. This risk will increase substantially if increased temperatures lead to increases in the length of the mosquito-biting season or if European strains show higher replication at lower temperatures than North American strains.