European projections of West Nile virus transmission under climate change scenarios

Zia Farooq, Henrik Sjödin, Jan C. Semenza, Yesim Tozan, Maquines Odhiambo Sewe, Jonas Wallin, Joacim Rocklöv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


West Nile virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne zoonosis, has emerged as a disease of public health concern in Europe. Recent outbreaks have been attributed to suitable climatic conditions for its vectors favoring transmission. However, to date, projections of the risk for WNV expansion under climate change scenarios is lacking. Here, we estimate the WNV-outbreaks risk for a set of climate change and socioeconomic scenarios. We delineate the potential risk-areas and estimate the growth in the population at risk (PAR). We used supervised machine learning classifier, XGBoost, to estimate the WNV-outbreak risk using an ensemble climate model and multi-scenario approach. The model was trained by collating climatic, socioeconomic, and reported WNV-infections data (2010−22) and the out-of-sample results (1950–2009, 2023–99) were validated using a novel Confidence-Based Performance Estimation (CBPE) method. Projections of area specific outbreak risk trends, and corresponding population at risk were estimated and compared across scenarios. Our results show up to 5-fold increase in West Nile virus (WNV) risk for 2040-60 in Europe, depending on geographical region and climate scenario, compared to 2000-20. The proportion of disease-reported European land areas could increase from 15% to 23-30%, putting 161 to 244 million people at risk. Across scenarios, Western Europe appears to be facing the largest increase in the outbreak risk of WNV. The increase in the risk is not linear but undergoes periods of sharp changes governed by climatic thresholds associated with ideal conditions for WNV vectors. The increased risk will require a targeted public health response to manage the expansion of WNV with climate change in Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100509
JournalOne Health
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Artificial intelligence
  • Climate change
  • Climate impacts
  • Confidence-based performance estimation (CBPE) method
  • Europe
  • WNV risk projections
  • West Nile virus
  • XGBoost
  • Zoonoses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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