Saturday, July 12, 2014

Diary of the Last Age - Disease

One of the signs of global warming is the march of tropical diseases towards the north.  An important new mosquito-borne illness, Chikungunya, is showing itself in the United States.  It has mostly remained in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Southeast Asia, but last year the Caribbean Islands were fully invaded by the virus and it won't be long before it comes to the Southern U.S.

But that is just the beginning.  As new ecological niches are formed further north, they will be filled with new disease carrying hosts that find them congenial.
Malaria is climbing the mountains to reach populations in higher elevations in Africa and Latin America. Cholera is growing in warmer seas. Dengue fever and Lyme disease are moving north. West Nile virus, never seen on this continent until seven years ago, has infected more than 21,000 people in the United States and Canada and killed more than 800. 
The diseases, like malaria, dengue fever, schistomiasis, and yellow fever are moving North into newly warmed areas.
Eventually, these diseases new to higher latitudes will tax our health care system.  As people migrate north away from uninhabitable areas, creating severe competition of resources, there will be less that can be done to help people with these diseases.  What is happening right now in Haiti, a failure to solve the problem, portends what will happen as global warming advances.  People living now in developed countries in more northern latitudes will find themselves in circumstances now only found in third world countries at lower latitudes.

UPDATE:  Native cases of Chikungunya found in Florida.