This recent study, published in 2016, looked at rotavirus in the megacity of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Rotavirus is the main diarrheal disease in infants in young children throughout this megacity. Dhaka is a city that struggles with overcrowding and sanitation, and the risk of rotavirus is higher in the urban core than in the less populated periphery of the season.
Scientists previously knew that there are increased cases and transmission of rotavirus in the summer monsoon season due to flooding. This recent study found that within the core, there was a second peak in rotavirus transmission during the less intense winter monsoons, yet this second peak did not exist during the winter in the less populated, peripheral part of the city.
This study thus amplifies the importance of understanding spatial heterogeneity when looking at disease transmission. Rotavirus is not normally considered to be a climate sensitive disease; however, we are seeing that it is, especially in the population core of Dhaka. With a changing climate, it is important to consider the role of different population densities, and how this might interact with disease transmission in cities. I was so excited to read this study, as it integrated my interests of virology, health, and climate change.
-- Ashley Jowell