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Global climate change and infectious diseases.

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Abstract

The effects of global climate change on infectious diseases are hypothetical until more is known about the degree of change in temperature and humidity that will occur. Diseases most likely to increase in their distribution and severity have three-factor (agent, vector, and human being) and four-factor (plus vertebrate reservoir host) ecology. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes may move northward and have more rapid metamorphosis with global warming. These mosquitoes transmit dengue virus, and Aedes aegypti transmits yellow fever virus. The faster metamorphosis and a shorter extrinsic incubation of dengue and yellow fever viruses could lead to epidemics in North America. Vibrio cholerae is harbored persistently in the estuaries of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Over the past 200 years, cholera has become pandemic seven times with spread from Asia to Europe, Africa, and North America. Global warming may lead to changes in water ecology that could enhance similar spread of cholera in North America. Some other infectious diseases such as LaCrosse encephalitis and
Lyme disease are caused by agents closely dependent on the integrity of their environment. These diseases may become less prominent with global warming because of anticipated modification of their habitats. Ecological studies will help us to understand more fully the possible consequences of global warming. New and more effective methods for control of vectors will be needed.

Environ Health Perspect. 1991 Dec;96:171-4. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, Non-P.H.S.; Research Support, U.S. Gov’t, P.H.S.; Review

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