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More ticks.

These diseases are caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites, and affect more than one billion people, mainly in the tropics, where the most vulnerable developing world populations are concentrated.

But the map of tropical diseases like malaria, Chagas’ disease, sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis and dengue fever, is starting to change.

Tropical diseases transmitted by vectors like mosquitoes, flies, ticks or snails are directly affected by conditions in the ecosystems they inhabit, such as changes in humidity, water levels, temperature or rainfall, experts explain.

“Global warming is ‘tropicalising’ subtropical regions; rising temperatures could bring an explosion of parasite and insect vectors that are expanding into North America, the Southern Cone of South America, Australia and New Zealand,” Costa Nery said.

One sign of this, said the president of the SBMT, is the spread of leishmaniasis in Europe by travelling persons and dogs. He explained that the disease, which is endemic in southern Europe, could continue to spread northward if temperatures keep rising.

At the same time, climate variation in the tropics and its effects on the frequency of flooding and drought “could also modify the dynamic of the transmission of diseases,” with the emergence of vectors that alter the population’s immunity and resistance.

Via IPS covering the 18th International Congress on Tropical Medicine and Malaria, held Sept. 23-27 in Rio de Janeiro.



Florida, the Conservative Utopia: A Low-Service State With High Disease Rates

In late June, Florida’s governor and GOP Legislature shut down the state’s only hospital to treat tuberculosis. At the same time, the state was experiencing the largest outbreak of TB - “consumption” - in America in 20 years. The CDC warned Scott’s health office an epidemic was in the offing. But he never even told the lawmakers who voted to close the hospital, much less Florida’s millions of citizens who are at risk of their lungs melting.

As our Florida correspondent reports, it’s par for the course in the Sunshine State, where even septic-tank inspections are derided as socialism, and conservative lawmakers have cut social services to the bone—and Rick Scott has cut even further, using his line-item veto to slash mercilessly at Legislature-approved spending he deems unimportant.

Scott, for his part, has yet to comment on the TB outbreak in Jacksonville, Miami, and who knows where else. He’s at an air show in London.

Read the whole story and pass it on.

(via nickturse)

Scary news from Down Under, a new disease seems to be erupting, killing humans and livestock. Cause is increased heat and flooding, making a perfect incubator for the virus.

"It started with Vic Rail’s horses, in September 1994. First one, then another, they died horrible deaths, 13 horses in all over the span of just two weeks, frothing from their noses and mouths, thrashing in agonizing pain. Then Rail died too.

Weeks later Australian officials isolated a newly discovered virus they ultimately named Hendra, after the Brisbane suburb where Rail and his horses died. For 17 years, Hendra virus smoldered in its host population of fruit bats killing nearly 50 horses and claiming three more human lives.

Then in May, something happened.

Flying Fox, a type of bat, in Australia passed deadly virus to humans

It was as if Hendra virus awoke from a slumber and roared fully into life. There have been more outbreaks of Hendra in 2011 — 18 at last count — than in the 16 previous years…

"The interesting change was the big floods in January," said Raina Plowright, a disease ecologist at the Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics. “Floods are expected more frequently with climate change — so, if they are linked, climate change may increase disease.”

Hendra virus is just one of a number of newly emerged zoonotic diseases, so called because they have their origins in animals but somehow make the leap to humans, and in doing so, wreak enormous havoc. While zoonotic diseases may sound exotic, one of the most devastating is also one of the most familiar: AIDS, which made the jump from primates to humans sometime at the beginning of the 20th century, and now kills an estimated 2.7 million people a year. Hendra, far newer but fearsomely lethal, has claimed the lives of four of the seven people infected.”

Climate Central