Arctic researchers set the internet buzzing this week, announcing they’d discovered a new “giant” virus in Arctic permafrost. Thawed in their lab, it quickly infected and killed host bacteria …
Public Health and Climate
Last month the USDA announced plans to create seven climate change “hubs” to provide outreach and training on behalf of the farm, agriculture and forestry sectors in the seven regions they serve. The effort represents a realignment of existing government resources rather than new investment. It’s a welcome development, and a model for other government agencies to collectively address climate change-related impacts outside the realm of agriculture.
Already endemic in over 110 countries, and with almost 50 million cases annually, dengue fever continues to spread. Incidences have increased almost 30-fold in the past 50 years. Although rarely fatal, the disease costs Latin America and the Caribbean around $2.1 billion annually. Being a vector-borne disease, it is spread by mosquitos that frequently lay their eggs in standing water that is common near households in many tropical countries. Previous research has shown that dengue fever exhibits seasonal patterns, which means that climate change might affect its spread.
William Bradshaw presents his findings on adaptive behavior and distribution of mosquitos in response to warmer, longer winters. His talk was one of ten at last Spring’s YCEI-sponsored forum on the implications for infectious disease in an age of climate change.
Eighteen months ago researchers from Cornell University revealed a model that described conditions for an epidemic of Chikungunya virus in New York City1. Combining climate data and eco-epidemiological …
Olaf Kahl discusses the first effort to map the spread of ticks in Europe. Founder of Tick Radar, Olaf Kahl regularly appears on news channels to give the daily tick forecast.
Climate scientists predict that climate change will lead to increased variability in precipitation over much of South America. Research by Carlton et al (2013) on residents of northwestern rural Ecuador who rely on streams and rivers for their drinking water shows how those changes might impact water quality and associated rates of diarrhea, a water-related disease which leads to approximately 1 million deaths of young children worldwide each year. The study further highlighted curious dynamics involving precipitation and water-borne disease.
The internet’s vast quantities of information and its popularity among people all over the globe represent a tempting and enormous data pool for researchers. Political strategists, economists, and epidemiologists mine internet usage data to learn about human behaviors and cultural trends, producing interesting results (though sometimes flawed; see Butler 2013). Could scientists who study climate change use similar online data-mining tools to better understand and track the effects of climate change? A recent paper by Proulx and colleagues argues just that.
An excerpt from Matthew Thomas’s longer talk that lists a variety of basic things we ought to know about mosquitos in order to control mosquito populations and minimize transmission of mosquito-borne illnesses.
Joe Messina documents his work in East Africa where researchers look at the data like the tsetse would, selecting habitats based on desirable conditions of rainfall, temperature and soil moisture. The MSU team developed a model programmed to identify the most attractive habitats and predict the time when the pests could arrive in those places. This information creates a more effective eradication campaign, Messina says, attacking insects where they are in the present, rather than where they were a few years ago.