Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Role Of Climate Change In Disease Spread Examined

Date:
February 9, 2009
Source:
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Summary:
Concerns have long been raised about the implications of global climate change for the spread of arboviruses. However, while alterations in temperature and rainfall are important factors in making new territory hospitable to an invading arbovirus, studies of recent emergences of West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, Rift Valley fever virus and Bluetongue virus show that many other forces also play significant parts in new patters of viral emergence.

Ever since scientists first proposed that our planet might be experiencing widespread climate change, concerns have been raised about its implications for the spread of arboviruses – viruses carried by arthropods such as mosquitoes, midges and ticks. However, while alterations in temperature and rainfall are important factors in making new territory hospitable to an invading arbovirus, many other forces also play significant parts in new patterns of viral emergence.

That's the message of a paper in the February "Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene" by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston pathology professor Stephen Higgs and Oxford University professor Ernest A. Gould. In the article, Higgs and Gould examine the relative importance of climate change in the spread of four viruses that have captured headlines in the past 10 years: West Nile virus, Chikungunya virus, Rift Valley fever virus and Bluetongue virus.

"There's no doubt that during the past 50 years or so, patterns of emerging arbovirus diseases have changed significantly," Higgs said. "We picked prominent examples and asked how much is climate change a factor in these emergences?"

Since the viruses in question are carried either by mosquitoes (West Nile, Chikungunya, Rift Valley fever) or midges (Bluetongue), creatures whose activity and population increase in warm, moist environments, one would suspect that a transition to a warmer, wetter climate could have opened the door for their spread to a new region. According to Higgs, though, it's not that simple. "You can't disassociate arbovirus diseases from the climate," Higgs said, "but many other factors affected the spread of these arboviruses."

Those factors include genetic mutation, the introduction of new species of mosquitoes, the presence of an immunologically vulnerable human population and ease of transportation of infected humans (Chikungunya virus); cyclic periods of high rainfall, modern irrigation projects, and livestock trade between Africa and southern Arabia (Rift Valley fever virus); and modern air transport, the availability of compatible mosquito species and large numbers of virus-spreading migratory birds (West Nile virus).

Of the four viruses under review, Higgs said, climate change could probably only be given the lion's share of the credit for the spread of Bluetongue virus. The midge-borne virus can cause fatal disease in sheep, goats and cattle and until about 10 years ago was limited to Africa. Then a warmer climate in Europe made it possible for the cold-sensitive Culex imicola midge species responsible for carrying the virus to move north. Today, borne by other midge species, Bluetongue has spread to 12 European countries.

"There are some confounding factors here, in that infected but asymptomatic livestock are being moved around, and midges can be spread great distances quickly by the wind," Higgs said. "But it seems clear that Bluetongue's dispersal has been driven by the northward expansion of Culex imicola, and that climate change may have contributed to that. If average temperatures increase in certain regions of the world as predicted by some experts, then species of arthropod vectors may disperse beyond their current geographic boundaries, and we need to be ready for the possibility that similar outbreaks could occur."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Role Of Climate Change In Disease Spread Examined." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142203.htm>.
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. (2009, February 9). Role Of Climate Change In Disease Spread Examined. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142203.htm
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "Role Of Climate Change In Disease Spread Examined." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090205142203.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins