Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

Donald McFarlane

Reader 2

Paul Torrens

Rights Information

© 2015 Shannon M. O'Neill


Throughout the early twentieth century, dengue fever was considered to be a nonthreatening illness, only infecting visitors of the tropics. However, in the last fifty years, there has been a resurgence of dengue fever; it is now considered to be the most consequential arbovirus, infecting more than 50 million people each year and leaving about half of the world's current population at risk of infection. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the various environmental factors that have contributed to the resurgence of dengue fever that has been seen in the last half century. Most notable of these factors are climate change and the increasing urbanization associated with population growth. Specifically, increasing temperatures and precipitation increases the available habitat for the dengue fever vector, the Aedes mosquito, while concurrently increasing both the longevity of the virus and the mosquito. Furthermore, changing sociodemographic factors associated with urbanization have helped spread the mosquito around the world, as the vector largely relies on human transportation. Finally, substandard housing often associated with insufficient water management systems creates the ideal breeding spots for the dengue vector. The Aedes mosquito is known to be one of the most versatile and one of the toughest mosquitoes in the world, which has allowed it to quickly adapt and succeed in these changing environments. Understanding these factors and their influence on the spread of dengue fever is vital in order to effectively manage current and future outbreaks. This is specifically important in regards to dengue fever and severe dengue as no vaccine or medications currently exists to treat this virus.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.