Author(s): Khasnis AA, Nettleman MD
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Abstract Global warming has serious implications for all aspects of human life, including infectious diseases. The effect of global warming depends on the complex interaction between the human host population and the causative infectious agent. From the human standpoint, changes in the environment may trigger human migration, causing disease patterns to shift. Crop failures and famine may reduce host resistance to infections. Disease transmission may be enhanced through the scarcity and contamination of potable water sources. Importantly, significant economic and political stresses may damage the existing public health infrastructure, leaving mankind poorly prepared for unexpected epidemics. Global warming will certainly affect the abundance and distribution of disease vectors. Altitudes that are currently too cool to sustain vectors will become more conducive to them. Some vector populations may expand into new geographic areas, whereas others may disappear. Malaria, dengue, plague, and viruses causing encephalitic syndromes are among the many vector-borne diseases likely to be affected. Some models suggest that vector-borne diseases will become more common as the earth warms, although caution is needed in interpreting these predictions. Clearly, global warming will cause changes in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. The ability of mankind to react or adapt is dependent upon the magnitude and speed of the change. The outcome will also depend on our ability to recognize epidemics early, to contain them effectively, to provide appropriate treatment, and to commit resources to prevention and research.
This article was published in Arch Med Res
and referenced in Journal of Socialomics