Study Says Climate Change will Bring Infectious Disease to New Areas
Most people are aware that climate change means a boost in the number of invasive species. With the change in temperature some species will change their natural habitats and move to places that suit them the best.
According to Daniel Brooks from the Parasitology Laboratory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln appearances of diseases in new places as well as new hosts will continue to appear. People have already witnessed diseases such as West Nile virus and Ebola but those wouldn’t be the last.
An article was published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B in which Brooks warns that there will be a lot more illnesses in future as the climate changes. Vegetation and animals will move and people will be exposed to pathogens that they might have never been exposed before.
“It’s not that there’s going to be one ‘Andromeda Strain’ that will wipe everybody out on the planet. There are going to be a lot of localized outbreaks putting pressure on medical and veterinary health systems. It will be the death of a thousand cuts,” said Brooks in a statement.
“Over the last 30 years, the places we’ve been working have been heavily impacted by climate change. Even though I was in the tropics and he was in the Arctic, we could see something was happening,” said Brooks.
“Even though a parasite might have a very specialized relationship with one particular host in one particular place, there are other hosts that may be as susceptible,” said Brooks, West Nile Virus is a good example – no longer an acute problem for humans or wildlife in North America, it nonetheless is here to stay.”
“We have to admit we’re not winning the war against emerging diseases. We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced,” said Brooks.