Climate Change Heightens Disease Threat

Speaking from the IUCN conference in Barcelona, William Karesh of the Wildlife Conservation Society spoke of potential fresh outbreaks of various diseases as a result of the effects of climate change. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperature variation could be important contributory factors to a rise in diseases.

Dr Karesh said that by monitoring wildlife it is possible to spot early signs of potential epidemics:

“What we are calling for today is a comprehensive approach to disease globally. Our long-term vision is a comprehensive monitoring network to watch the health of wildlife across the globe.”

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, preliminary trials have proved a success in preventing human epidemics; by keeping an eye on gorilla and chimp deaths brought about by the Ebola virus.

Warmer weather can help diseases thrive, dry conditions resulting in an increased frequency of watering by animals and thus a greater exposure to potential sources of disease. Some of the diseases that could become more of a threat include, Babesiosis in East Africa, Cholera and Sleeping Sickness.

A comprehensive review of wildlife diseases can be found in April’s Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology POSTnote.

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