Possible impacts of sea level rise on disease transmission and potential adaptation strategies, a review

Ana C. Dvorak, Helena M. Solo-Gabriele, Andrea Galletti, Bernardo Benzecry, Hannah Malone, Vicki Boguszewski, Jason Bird

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Sea levels are projected to rise in response to climate change, causing the intrusion of sea water into land. In flat coastal regions, this would generate an increase in shallow water covered areas with limited circulation. This scenario raises a concern about the consequences it could have on human health, specifically the possible impacts on disease transmission. In this review paper we identified three categories of diseases which are associated with water and whose transmission can be affected by sea level rise. These categories include: mosquitoborne diseases, naturalized organisms (Vibrio spp. and toxic algae), and fecal-oral diseases. For each disease category, we propose comprehensive adaptation strategies that would help minimize possible health risks. Finally, the City of Key West, Florida is analyzed as a case study, due to its inherent vulnerability to sea level rise. Current and projected adaptation techniques are discussed as well as the integration of additional recommendations, focused on disease transmission control. Given that sea level rise will likely continue into the future, the promotion and implementation of positive adaptation strategies is necessary to ensure community resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-968
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Climate change
  • Community resilience
  • Disease transmission
  • Fecal-oral microbes
  • Mosquitoborne disease
  • Naturalized microbes
  • Sea level rise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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