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2015-2016 El Niño triggered disease outbreaks across globe

28 February 2019

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The 2015-2016 El Niño event brought weather conditions that triggered regional disease outbreaks throughout the world, according to a new NASA study that is the first to comprehensively assess the public health impacts of the major climate event on a global scale.

El Niño is an irregularly recurring climate pattern characterized by warmer than usual ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which creates a ripple effect of anticipated weather changes in far-spread regions of Earth. During the 2015-2016 event, changes in precipitation, land surface temperatures and vegetation created and facilitated conditions for transmission of diseases, resulting in an uptick in reported cases for plague and hantavirus in Colorado and New Mexico, cholera in Tanzania, and dengue fever in Brazil and Southeast Asia, among others.

Source: NASA

Image credit: NASA Goddard's Scientific Visualization Studio - Increased sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean characterizes an El Niño, which is followed by weather changes throughout the world.