Climate change and infectious diseases in North America: the road ahead

Greer, Amy; Ng, Victoria; Fisman, David
March 2008
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;3/11/2008, Vol. 178 Issue 6, p715
Academic Journal
Global climate change is inevitable — the combustion of fossil fuels has resulted in a buildup of greenhouse gases within the atmosphere, causing unprecedented changes to the earth's climate. The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that North America will experience marked changes in weather patterns in coming decades, including warmer temperatures and increased rainfall, summertime droughts and extreme weather events (e.g., tornadoes and hurricanes). Although these events may have direct consequences for health (e.g., injuries and displacement of populations due to thermal stress), they are also likely to cause important changes in the incidence and distribution of infectious diseases, including vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, water- and food-borne diseases and diseases with environmental reservoirs (e.g., endemic fungal diseases). Changes in weather patterns and ecosystems, and health consequences of climate change will probably be most severe in far northern regions (e.g., the Arctic). We provide an overview of the expected nature and direction of such changes, which pose current and future challenges to health care providers and public health agencies.


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