Feb 162011
Authors: Bonnie Cleveland

The avian influenza. Cholera. Ebola. Tuberculosis. These are four of the 12 diseases on the Deadly Dozen.

Compiled by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Deadly Dozen is a list of the 12 diseases that are likely to spread because of global warming.
“Environmental health affects agricultural health and human health,” said Mike Antolin, a biology professor at CSU.

Antolin was one of four CSU professors who presented on climate change and its relation to disease Wednesday night at Avogadro’s Number in Old Town. Members of the community posed questions to a panel, sponsored by the School of Global Environmental Sustainability.

The effects of climate change on illnesses cannot be answered in a simple response, and the severity of climate effects are quantified on a “disease by disease scenario,” Antolin said.

A warmer climate cultivates a more ideal environment for mosquitoes and diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus carried by the blood-sucking insects.

“As the world moves faster, the disease circle gets smaller,” said Brian Foy, an associate professor in microbiology, immunology and pathology.
So what does it take to begin tackling some of these issues?

Kate Huyvaert, a professor in wildlife conservation and biology, outlined an important point. Political will is key in shifting resources, and this includes focusing on disease detection and economics.

Crucial to preventing them from being destructive is detection of diseases riding into the U.S. on the backs of imports.

This raises the question: How should we let climate change’s influence on disease affect everyday life?

Foy says climate change is critically important, but damage is very dependant on specific diseases.

“Mankind is doing a good job controlling disease through advances in drugs and cleanliness,” Foy said.

While climate change does impact disease, there is no reason for panic. Experts warn that people should not be alarmed or worry that everyone in the world will die from the Deadly Dozen.

Climate’s effect on diseases is not that drastic and does not have the largest effect on mankind’s illnesses.

“Rapid increases in species scares me a lot more than climate changes,” said William Jacobi, a professor in bioagricultural sciences and pest management.

Staff writer Bonnie Cleveland can be reached at news@collegain.com.

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