Scientists: Global Warming May Spread 'Deadly Dozen' Diseases

Bird flu is just one of 11 diseases that may worsen with global warming, scientists are warning.

Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society have nicknamed 12 diseases the “deadly dozen” and say they are spreading across the globe and becoming increasingly dangerous to wildlife and humans.

William Karesh, of the WCS, told the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conference in Barcelona Tuesday that there is increasing concern about the impact that climate change would have on the spread of disease. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures were known to have an effect, though the reason was not always clear, he said at the launch of the report called The Deadly Dozen.

Researchers called for wildlife monitoring systems to be set up around the globe to watch for signs of disease among animals before it spreads and kills people. Monitoring networks have already been introduced in parts of the world and have proved successful in saving lives.

The deadly dozen diseases include:

Avian influenza: An increase in stormy weather can disrupt flights and force infected wild birds into new areas — and into greater contact with domestic birds.

Babesiosis: A tick-borne disease that is increasingly a problem for humans. Climate change is thought to have aided a tick boom among lions and buffalo in East Africa.

Cholera: Warmer water suits the pathogen perfectly. Global warming will cause widespread outbreaks.

Ebola: Has been linked to variations in rainfall patterns. It kills gorillas, chimpanzees and people.

Intestinal and external parasites: Both rising temperatures and increased rainfall help the parasites to survive. They are an increasing problem for humans and animals.

Lyme disease: Changes in population patterns of white-tailed deer and white-footed mice have promoted a spread northwards of the tick-borne disease in the U.S. and into Canada.

Click here for the other six diseases and for more on this story from the Times of London.