Washington, October 8 : The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in the U.S. has enlisted 12 germs that can spread into new regions due to climate change, significantly affecting both human and wildlife health and global economies.
It new report, entitled 'The Deadly Dozen: Wildlife Diseases in the Age of Climate Change', highlights diseases that may spread as a result of changes in temperatures and precipitation levels.
Health experts associated with the WCS say that the best defence is a good offence in the form of wildlife monitoring to detect how such diseases are moving, so that health professionals can learn and prepare to mitigate their impact.
The report was released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held in Barcelona, Spain. The term 'climate change' conjures images of melting ice caps and rising sea levels that threaten coastal cities and nations, but just as important is how increasing temperatures and fluctuating precipitation levels will change the distribution of dangerous pathogens," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
"The health of wild animals is tightly linked to the ecosystems in which they live and influenced by the environment surrounding them, and even minor disturbances can have far reaching consequences on what diseases they might encounter and transmit as climate changes. Monitoring wildlife health will help us predict where those trouble spots will occur and plan how to prepare," he added.
Avian influenza, Ebola, cholera, and tuberculosis have been included on the list, which is illustrative only of the broad range of infectious diseases that threaten humans and animals.he "Deadly Dozen" list builds upon the recommendations included in a recently published paper titled "Wildlife Health as an Indicator of Climate Change", which appears in a newly released book, Global Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Understanding the Contributions to Infectious Disease Emergence, published by the National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine.
It was prepared after examining the nuts and bolts of deleterious impacts of climate change on the health of wild animals, and the cascading effects on human populations.
"Emerging infectious diseases are a major threat to the health and economic stability of the world. What we've learned from WCS and the GAINS Program is that monitoring wildlife populations for potential health threats is essential in our preparedness and prevention strategy and expanding monitoring beyond bird flu to other deadly diseases must be our immediate next step," said Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT3), a champion for the GAINS Program.
"The monitoring of wildlife health provides us with a sensitive and quantitative means of detecting changes in the environment. Wildlife health monitoring provides a new lens to see what is changing around us and will help governments, agencies, and communities detect and mitigate threats before they become disasters," said Dr. William Karesh, Vice President and Director of WCS's Global Health Programs.
Diseases included in the "Deadly Dozen" list are:
Intestinal and external parasites
Rift Valley Fever