The Spread of New Diseases and the Climate Connection by Sonia Shah: Yale Environment 360: As humans increasingly encroach on forested lands and as temperatures rise, the transmission of disease from animals and insects to people is growing. Now a new field, known as “conservation medicine,” is exploring how ecosystem disturbance and changing interactions between wildlife and humans can lead to the spread of new pathogens.
by sonia shah
Look up into the tree canopy of the urban tropics in South Asia, Australia, or equatorial Africa and as often as not you will find masses of Pteropos fruit bats, hanging from the branches like so many furry stalactites. Their forests cut down by bulldozers, torched by slash-and-burn farmers, or desiccated from a disrupted climate, fruit bats increasingly intrude upon human communities, adapting to the orchards and cultivated fruit trees of the cities, farms, and suburbs that have subsumed their forests.
With those bats come diseases that spread to humans, and a growing body of research suggests that their microbes — as well as other pathogens that jump from animals to people — are spreading more rapidly because of climate change and deforestation.