Wind direction and its linkage with Vibrio cholerae dissemination

Shlomit Paz, Meir Broza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The relevance of climatic events as causative factors for cholera epidemics is well known. However, examinations of the involvement of climatic factors in intracontinental disease distribution are still absent. Objectives: The spreading of cholera epidemics may be related to the dominant wind direction over land. Methods: We examined the geographic diffusion of three cholera outbreaks through their linkage with the wind direction: a) the progress of Vibrio cholerae O1 biotype El Tor in Africa during 1970-1971 and b) again in 2005-2006; and c) the rapid spread of Vibrio cholerae O139 over India during 1992-1993. We also discuss the possible influence of the wind direction on windborn dissemination by flying insects, which may serve as vectors. Results: Analysis of air pressure data at sea level and at several altitudes over Africa, India, and Bangladesh show a correspondence between the dominant wind direction and the intracontinental spread of cholera. Conclusions: We explored the hypothesis that winds have assisted the progress of cholera Vibrios throughout continents. The current analysis supports the hypothesis that aeroplankton (the tiny life forms that float in the air and that may be caught and carried upward by the wind, landing far from their origin) carry the cholera bacteria from one body of water to an adjacent one. This finding may improve our understanding of how climatic factors are involved in the rapid distribution of new strains throughout a vast continental area. Awareness of the aerial transfer of Vibrio cholerae may assist health authorities by improving the prediction of the disease's geographic dissemination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-200
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • Africa
  • Chironomidae
  • India
  • Vibrio cholarae
  • Wind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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