Navigation Links
Researchers examine role of climate change in disease spread
Date:2/5/2009

GALVESTON, Texas 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."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jim Kelly
jpkelly@utmb.edu
409-772-8791
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Mayo Clinic researchers suspect a novel gene is causing restless legs syndrome in a large family
2. Researchers disprove 15-year-old theory about the nervous system
3. Caltech researchers help unlock the secrets of gene regulatory networks
4. Researchers find pathway and enzyme unique to tularemia organism
5. TGen and ASU researchers find drug that could reduce risk of Alzheimers
6. LSUSHC researchers find potential new target for hypertension treatment
7. UT Southwestern researchers disrupt biochemical system involved in cancer, degenerative disease
8. What we don’t know still hurts us, environmental researchers warn
9. Researchers unzip molecules to measure interactions keeping DNA packed in cells
10. Researchers may have found why women have an edge on salt-sensitive hypertension
11. Researchers identify new function of protein in cellular respiration
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC Research ... market by reviewing the recent advances in high ... drive the field forward. Includes forecast through 2019. ... the challenges and opportunities that exist in the ... solution developers, as well as IT and bioinformatics ...
(Date:2/1/2016)... -- Rising sales of consumer electronics coupled ... gesture control market size through ... electronics coupled with new technological advancements to drive global ... through 2020   --> Rising ... to drive global touchfree intuitive gesture control market ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... Pa. , Jan. 25, 2016   Unisys Corporation ... system at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport, New ... Protection (CBP) identify imposters attempting to enter the ... not belong to them. pilot testing of the ... initially at three terminals at JFK during January 2016. --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... Global Stem Cells Group has announced an inaugural conference and stem cell ... 24-March 6, 2016. The new facility will provide advanced protocols and state-of-the-art techniques in ... CEO Benito Novas will host the event, which will begin with a stem cell ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... 12, 2016  BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) (NYSE: ... today announced the launch of the BD CLiC™ System ... (AGBT) Meeting. --> ... by providing cost effective NGS library preparation with limited ... fully integrated, next generation sequencing (NGS) library prep instrument, ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Non-profit Consortium Aims to Generate Genomic Information for ... Discovery --> --> The ... sequence 100,000 individuals. It is intended to initially include populations ... North and East Asian countries. --> ... focus on creating phased reference genomes for all major Asian ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Germany and GERMANTOWN, Maryland ... ; Frankfurt Prime Standard: QIA) today announced the introduction ... for gene expression profiling, expanding QIAGEN,s portfolio of Sample ... enable researchers to select from over 20,000 human genes ... interactions between genes, cellular phenotypes and disease processes. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: