Global Warming Could Quicken the Spread of Disease

Climate change could make it easier for some “deadly” diseases to be transmitted from animals to humans.

Global Warming is not just about melting ice caps and rising temperatures.  Scientists continue to discover new ways in which the “butterfly effect” of global warming could transform life on Earth as we know it.  The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a report on October 7th, naming 12 deadly human-wildlife diseases that could spread into new regions as a result of climate change.

The report, entitled The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change, was released at the IUCN Conservation Congress being held this week in Barcelona, Spain.  The report illustrates examples of how certain disease could spread as a result of rising temperatures and precipitation levels.

“We’ve seen Lyme disease work its way up from the US into Canada, and West Nile fever as well,” said William Karesh, director of WCS’s global health programs.  “Basically what you have now are fewer frozen nights in this region, and that allows the ticks and mosquitoes that carry these diseases to survive further north.”

The “Deadly Dozen” list—including such diseases as avian influenza, Ebola, cholera, and tuberculosis—is by no means a complete analysis of all infectious diseases that threaten humans and animals.

Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO of WCS said: “The health of wild animals is tightly linked to the ecosystems in which they live and influenced by the environment surrounding them, and even minor disturbances can have far-reaching consequences on what diseases they might encounter and transmit as climate changes. Monitoring wildlife health will help us predict where those trouble spots will occur and plan how to prepare.”

Source:  Wildlife Conservation Society

Photo:  Wikimedia Commons

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