In the News: Does climate change contribute to disease?

Could climate change lead to more disease outbreaks and infections?

Dr. Erin Lipp, a professor of environmental health science at the UGA College of Public Health, was asked this audience-generated climate change question as part of CNN’s Two Degrees series.

An excerpt from Dr. Lipp’s response:

Several diseases are sensitive to climate, among them diarrheal diseases and those transmitted by insect vectors.

For example, the tick that carries the bacterium responsible for Lyme disease has expanded its range northward in the United States and Canada over the past 20 years due to warming temperatures, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Another example is the Vibrio bacterium. The pathogen is found naturally in warm marine waters and is responsible for diarrheal disease (and sometimes bloodstream poisoning) following consumption of raw oysters or wound infections after swimming in seawater. These bacteria also have expanded their range due to warming coastal waters.

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Posted November 20, 2015.