Climate change is impacting our lives in many ways. But one that might not be on your radar is an increase in zoonotic diseases.
Those are infections that can spread from animals to people. Transmission often requires a vector, like a mosquito, that bites an infected animal then bites a person. Some zoonotic pathogens are very specific—that is, they only affect a limited number of species. Others, like the rabies virus, can infect many species and therefore increase the risk to humans.
As climates go through drastic changes, pathogens — even quite specific ones — can be pressured to find new animal carriers. In particular, some pathogens appear to become less picky in warmer, drier climates.
It’s one more health concern to contemplate as we strive to rein in climate change.