TEXT-ONLY VERSION (scroll to bottom to download Newsletter in PDF)
The effect of climate change on emerging infectious animal diseases
It may come as no surprise that climate change plays an important role in the increasing number of new pathogens and disease outbreaks that have been wreaking havoc in both human and animal populations. Increasing changes in the global and local environments have been linked to increased frequency of new pathogens “jumping” between animals and humans.
Infectious animal disease outbreaks have been on the rise as well. African Swine Fever continues to affect the world’s swine population and several strains of lethal avian influenza have been reported to be spreading. In Australia and the Middle Eastern countries vets and ecologists have also warned of mysterious fungal disease being found in fish and marine life as well as lethal tick-borne and other pet illnesses.
Since 1940, 335 new and potentially fatal diseases have emerged worldwide. This during a time where the human population has increased exponentially, the climate has changed, and more meat is being eaten. The risk of a crossover event of a pathogen to another species is highly likely due to humans encroaching on wild spaces or the imposition of unnatural conditions on other species. The ideal environments for viruses and pathogens to spill over across species, mutate and spread have been created.
Climate change also has severe impacts on the environment. Warmer temperatures allow for fundamental changes in the landscape of disease by forcing or enabling species to survive in new areas and mix with others. Notably, insects, which act as vectors for diseases and are now able to flourish in new environments and spread diseases in areas of higher altitudes and previously cooler climates.
An increase in the frequency of extreme weather such as droughts and floods cause can cause and an excess or scarcity of water (drinking and natural water in the environment). This affects the epidemiology of some infections and can cause epidemics and epizootic outbreaks. Drought and wind facilitate the spread of soil and dust and thereby also the transmission of disease-associated bacteria.
Zoonotic diseases are of special importance in the context of a changing climate. It has been estimated that more than 70% of current human infections are zoonoses. Thus, both animal and human health will most likely be affected by changes in the distribution and virulence of zoonotic pathogens caused by climate change. Furthermore populations of humans and animals that have never been previously exposed to a particular disease are immunologically naïve. An outbreak of a disease in a new area can therefore more severe.
Biosecurity has always been important and even more so in a changing climate. Measures need to be put into place to prevent the spread of diseases. The dumping of animal carcasses on landfill sites and burying of them in the natural environment pose a massive risk to human and animal health. It’s up to us as pet owners, environmental ambassadors and human beings to look after our planet and play our part in the protection thereof.
Global warming allows for vectors of disease such as mosquitoes, mites, fleas and ticks to flourish and spread to new areas where they have not been present before. Usually areas with previously cooler climates.
- 70% – It is estimated that more than 70% of current human infections are zoonoses/ originated in animal species.
- Since 1940, 335 new and potentially fatal diseases have emerged worldwide.
- Climate change affects disease transmission by shifting the vector’s geographic range and by shortening the pathogen incubation period.
Climate Change’s Impact:
- Changing weather patterns increase the risk of infectious diseases around the world.
- Air pollution could help viruses become airborne and more deadly.
- Melting of ice and permafrost could lead to the re-emergence of ancient diseases.
- Global warming could cause viral mutations that resist our defences for fighting illnesses.
Climate-Sensitive : Many infectious diseases are climate-sensitive. Urbanisation, changes in disease control and human mobility all play roles in the expansion of infectious diseases. Meanwhile, as climates have warmed, more places are now also reaching suitable temperatures for disease transmission.
EarthPet’s System Is:
- Recognised as a bio-secure disposal method.
- Humane and environmentally friendly.
- Effectively neutralising harmful pathogenic micro-organisms.
- Eliminating the attraction of scavengers, rodents, birds and insects.
- Preventing environmental contamination caused by pharmaceutical compounds.
- Lowering greenhouse gas emissions and diverts organic waste from landfill.
Abc.net.au. 2022. Deadly dog disease spreads to north-west Queensland putting pet owners on alert. [online] Available at: <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-02-01/tick-borne-disease-ehrlichiosis-arrives-in-mount-isa-queensland/100787066> [Accessed 31 May 2022].
Omazic, A., Bylund, H., Boqvist, S., Högberg, A., Björkman, C., Tryland, M., Evengård, B., Koch, A., Berggren, C., Malogolovkin, A., Kolbasov, D., Pavelko, N., Thierfelder, T. and Albihn, A., 2019. Identifying climate-sensitive infectious diseases in animals and humans in Northern regions. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, [online] 61(1). Available at: <https://actavetscand.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13028-019-0490-0> [Accessed 31 May 2022].
Mittal, Niti, and Bikash Medhi. “The bird flu: a new emerging pandemic threat and its pharmacological intervention.” International journal of health sciences vol. 1,2 (2007): 277-83.
The Guardian. 2022. Monkeypox isn’t the disease we should be worried about | John Vidal. [online] Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/may/25/monkeypox-disease-climate-change?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other> [Accessed 31 May 2022].