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Refractory periods and climate forcing in cholera dynamics

A population's immunity to disease can greatly affect outbreaks of vector-borne disease, and isolating the influence of climate variability has proven difficult. This research study sets out to evaluate the effect of climate by accounting for population immunity.

The authors collated data on cholera cases from a predominant strain in the rural area of Matlab, Bangladesh, from 1966–2002. They used a model to incorporate immunity from previous infections and also potential cross-immunity from previous infections by other strains. They found that both forms of immunity were long-lasting — over 10 years in some cases. Yet the variation in transmission did not always match variations in immunity; at several points, it coincided with severe weather change such as monsoon rains or river overflow.

The authors suggest that forecasting disease will require considering climate variability alongside population susceptibility.