Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



As the Earth’s climate changes, coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to the natural hazards that are driven by these processes, particularly in regards to the health of these communities. It has been shown that disease patterns can change in response to our environment, putting the health resilience of communities at risk. This study looks at the relationship between natural exposure and traditional resilience index variables in the context of the spread of West Nile Virus along the Gulf of Mexico. Through analysis of 534 counties, the West Nile Virus for 2001-2012 was analyzed as an incidence and incidence rate at three levels of urban and rural classification (metropolitan, micropolitan, and rural) as well as for the entire study area. Regression analysis found that models incorporating both natural and society indicators were more successful at explaining a population’s vulnerability to the West Nile Virus. It was seen that short-term climate variability and economic indicators were important measures of a community’s health resilience in the context of the prevalence of the West Nile Virus. Socio-economic characteristics proved to be more explanatory in rural environments while natural characteristics explained more variance in metropolitan and micropolitan environments. Increasing temperatures were found to increase the spread of the West Nile Virus, particularly in urban areas. This study is a tangible analysis of health resilience in the context of both the human and natural environments across different levels of human infrastructure on a large spatial scale.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lam, Nina