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[greenyes] Global Warming and Infectious Diseases
 THE LONDON INDEPEDENT
New diseases arise as environments destroyed, says UN
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
22 February 2005
Changes to the environment that are sweeping the planet are bringing about a 
rise in infectious diseases, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) 
has warned.
Loss of forests; the building of roads and dams; urban growth; the clearing 
of natural habitats for agriculture; mining; and pollution of coastal waters 
are promoting conditions under which new and old pathogens can thrive, 
according to research published today in Unep's Global Environment Outlook 
Year Book for 2004/2005.
Ailments previously unknown in human beings are appearing, such as the Nipah 
virus, which until recently was found normally in Asian fruit bats, 
according to the report.
Nipah's emergence in the late 1990s as an often fatal disease in humans has 
been linked to a combination of forest fires in Sumatra and the clearance of 
natural forests in Malaysia for palm plantations. In searching for fruit, 
bats were forced into closer contact with domestic pigs, giving the virus 
its chance to spread to humans.
Climate change in particular may aggravate the threats of infectious 
diseases in three ways, the report suggests. First, by increasing the 
temperatures under which many diseases and their carriers flourish.
Second, by further stressing and altering habitats. For example, the 
geographic range and seasonality of two of the world's most serious 
mosquito-borne infections, malaria and dengue fever, are very sensitive to 
changes in climate. Also, Neissseria meningitidis, a common cause of 
meningitis, can be spread many miles in the dusty conditions that occur 
following prolonged drought in the Sahel.
Third, climate change may increase the number of environmental refugees who 
are forced to migrate to other communities, or even countries. This in turn 
will also favour the spread of diseases from one location to 
another.Overall, it seems that intact habitats and landscapes tend to keep 
infectious agents in check.
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_________________________
Peter Anderson, President
RECYCLEWORLDS CONSULTING
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address
web: www.recycleworlds.net

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