UC Berkeley assistant professor of demography Ayesha Mahmud and her colleagues from other universities found that climate change may lessen the severity of viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, but may also cause cases to occur more often.

Mahmud and her fellow researchers — Rachel Baker, Caroline Wagner, Wenchang Yang, Virginia Pitzer, Cecile Viboud, Gabriel Vecchi, C. Jessica Metcalf and Bryan Grenfell — published a paper about their findings in the scientific journal Nature Communications on Dec. 4.

RSV is a virus that infects many young children and can cause respiratory infections, including bronchiolitis and pneumonia in infants. It has also been implicated in some people’s development of asthma later in life.

The team collected data on RSV hospitalizations from 300 counties in the United States and all 32 states in Mexico. They then combined the RSV data with climate data, which included numbers on precipitation, humidity and temperature, to investigate patterns and what drives the transmission of these viruses, as well as to predict future RSV cycles using signs of climate change.