A survey of Dutch expert opinion on climatic drivers of infectious disease risk in Western Europe

Climate change is considered to be a significant influence for infectious disease risk in Western Europe. Climatic and non-climatic developments act together resulting in current and future infectious disease risk. This study uses a survey to explore Dutch expert perspectives on climate change induced infectious disease risk. The results show that the experts consider temperature change, precipitation change, humidity change, and climate change induced habitat change to be relatively important for water-related infectious disease risk, vector-borne disease risk excluding zoonoses, and the risk of zoonoses. The climatic drivers are seen as relatively less important for food-related infectious disease risk. The experts rate many non-climatic drivers to be highly important for infectious disease risk. Comparatively, the majority of the non-climatic drivers assessed are seen as more important than climate change drivers. The degree of uncertainty in the future development of climatic drivers is viewed as moderate to high, and for non-climatic drivers mostly as moderate. An analysis of subsamples based on professional backgrounds reveals differences in experts’ opinions for e.g., socio-cultural drivers, and similarities. Diversity and consensus amongst expert perspectives on climate change and infectious diseases can have implications for policy. Further research to uncover and compare prevailing perspectives is necessary.

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