Friday, August 10, 2007

Disease ecology in an unstable climate: Conference

Newswise: Climate change complicates everything. In addition to the much-talked about sea-level rise and its possible consequences, climate change has been implicated in the recent emergence of several infectious diseases. Drawing from a wide range of case studies that illustrate the potential effects of climate on disease dynamics, a series of presentations to be held at the joint meeting of the Ecological Society of America and the Society for Ecological Restoration will showcase what scientists are discovering about the links between climate and disease.

Organized by Chris Ray and Sharon Collinge (University of Colorado-Boulder), “Climate change and disease ecology: Challenges to the restoration and maintenance of suitable pestilence” will also address the complicating factor of climate in efforts to restore damaged ecosystems.

“Long-term changes in climate and short-term climatic disruptions will continue to alter the distribution and prevalence of infectious diseases,” says Ray. “And the frequency of short-term climatic disruptions appears to be on the rise.”

The session will explore a wide range of diseases, from those affecting marine habitat to those that sicken people, such as malaria.

…Exploring how climate may affect another disease of concern to people, Nicholas Ogden (Public Health Agency of Canada) will address Canada’s concern about Lyme disease, as the tick vector Ixodes scapularis expands its range. The United States already suffered an epidemic of Lyme disease, which emerged in the late 1970s and peaked in 2002 when over 21,000 cases were reported. Canadian public health officials hope to avoid a similar epidemic by predicting the scope and likely direction of Lyme disease expansion.

Organizers Ray and Collinge say that their session will also mark the first step in efforts to reach a wider audience: a less technical book based on interviews with the presenters …

For more information about this session and other ESA Meeting activities, visit: The theme of the meeting is “Ecology-based restoration in a changing world” and some 4,000 scientists are expected to attend.

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