Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hottest Year on Record for the Contiguous US: Implications for Emerging Infectious Diseases?
Here is an article from the Huffington Post discussing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data from 2012, noting that 2012 was the "hottest year on record for [the] lower 48 [United] states." The article is compelling and contains some nice images that outline how the average temperature has increased in the contiguous United States over the past century; it is believed that climate change has played a role in this mean temperature increase.

A byproduct of increasing global temperatures is the expansion of insect habitats that can harbor viral infections (such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever).  As I have previously noted, this phenomenon may have contributed to a dengue outbreak in southern Florida, and may lead to other viral infections (such as chikungunya) emerging in other parts of the United States, as well. A recent study from Mexico found the mosquitoes that can carry dengue (as well as the chikungunya and yellow fever viruses) at higher elevations than previously identified; this may represent expansion of the mosquitoes' habitat due to global warming.

If the world continues to grow warmer, the medical and public health communities need to be aware (and vigilant in surveillance) of the potential for traditionally "tropical" infectious diseases to emerge in (what were once) more temperate climates.

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