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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News release] Long-term study on ticks reveals shifting migration patterns, disease risks

From the 11 May 2015 Indiana University news release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Over nearly 15 years spent studying ticks, Indiana University’s Keith Clay has found southern Indiana to be an oasis free from Lyme disease, the condition most associated with these arachnids that are the second most common parasitic disease vector on Earth.

He has also seen signs that this low-risk environment is changing, both in Indiana and in other regions of the U.S.

A Distinguished Professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, Clay has received support for his research on ticks from over $2.7 million in grants from the National Science Foundation-National Institutes of Health’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program and others.

Clay’s lab has found relatively few pathogens in southern Indiana ticks that cause common tick-borne diseases compared to the Northeast and states like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

But Lyme disease has been detected just a few hours north of the region around Tippecanoe River State Park and Lake Michigan’s Indiana Dunes, and Clay said the signs are there that new tick species, and possibly the pathogens they carry, are entering the area.

“Just in the past 10 years, we’re seeing things shift considerably,” Clay said. “You used to never see lone star ticks in Indiana; now they’re very common. In 10 years, we’re likely to see the Gulf Coast tick here, too. There are several theories for why this is happening, but the big one is climate change.”

A vector for disease

The conclusions are drawn from years of work spent mapping tick boundaries and disease risks, but the exact cause of the shifting borders is not clear. In addition to changing temperatures, Clay references changes in animal populations, including deer, which provide large, mobile hosts for the parasites.

 

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News release] Long-term study on ticks reveals shifting migration patterns, disease risks

Long-term study on ticks reveals shifting migration patterns, disease risks.

From the 11 May 2015 Indiana University news release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Over nearly 15 years spent studying ticks, Indiana University’s Keith Clay has found southern Indiana to be an oasis free from Lyme disease, the condition most associated with these arachnids that are the second most common parasitic disease vector on Earth.

He has also seen signs that this low-risk environment is changing, both in Indiana and in other regions of the U.S.

A Distinguished Professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology, Clay has received support for his research on ticks from over $2.7 million in grants from the National Science Foundation-National Institutes of Health’s Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Program and others.

Tick infographic

Clay’s lab has found relatively few pathogens in southern Indiana ticks that cause common tick-borne diseases compared to the Northeast and states like Wisconsin and Minnesota.

But Lyme disease has been detected just a few hours north of the region around Tippecanoe River State Park and Lake Michigan’s Indiana Dunes, and Clay said the signs are there that new tick species, and possibly the pathogens they carry, are entering the area.

“Just in the past 10 years, we’re seeing things shift considerably,” Clay said. “You used to never see lone star ticks in Indiana; now they’re very common. In 10 years, we’re likely to see the Gulf Coast tick here, too. There are several theories for why this is happening, but the big one is climate change.”

A vector for disease

The conclusions are drawn from years of work spent mapping tick boundaries and disease risks, but the exact cause of the shifting borders is not clear. In addition to changing temperatures, Clay references changes in animal populations, including deer, which provide large, mobile hosts for the parasites.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Press Release] The Human Health Costs of Losing Natural Systems: Quantifying Earth’s Worth to Public Health

From the 19 November press release posted at Natural History Wanderings

Scientists Urge Focus on New Branch of Environmental Health

NEW YORK (November 19, 2013) — A new paper from members of the HEAL (Health & Ecosystems: Analysis of Linkages) consortium delineates a new branch of environmental health that focuses on the public health risks of human-caused changes to Earth’s natural systems.

Looking comprehensively at available research to date, the paper’s authors highlight repeated correlations between changes in natural systems and existing and potential human health outcomes, including:

Forest fires used to clear land in Indonesia generate airborne particulates that are linked to cardiopulmonary disease in downwind population centers like Singapore.

Risk of human exposure to Chagas disease in Panama and the Brazilian Amazon, and to Lyme disease in the United States, is positively correlated with reduced mammalian diversity.

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 http://www.wcs.org/files/pdfs/PNAS-2013-Human-health-impacts-of-ecosystem-alteration.pdf

When households in rural Madagascar are unable to harvest wild meat for consumption, their children can experience a 30% higher risk of iron deficiency anemia—a condition that increases the risk for sickness and death from infectious disease, and reduces IQ and the lifelong capacity for physical activity.

In Belize, nutrient enrichment from agricultural runoff hundreds of miles upstream causes a change in the vegetation pattern of lowland wetlands that favors more efficient malaria vectors, leading to increased malaria exposure among coastal populations.

Human health impacts of anthropogenic climate change include exposure to heat stress, air pollution, infectious disease, respiratory allergens, and natural hazards as well as increased water scarcity, food insecurity and population displacement.

“Human activity is affecting nearly all of Earth’s natural systems—altering the planet’s land cover, rivers and oceans, climate, and the full range of complex ecological relationships and biogeochemical cycles that have long sustained life on Earth,” said Dr. Samuel Myers of the Harvard School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. “Defining a new epoch, the Anthropocene, these changes and their effects put in question the ability of the planet to provide for a human population now exceeding 7 billion with an exponentially growing demand for goods and services.”

Read the entire press release here

November 27, 2013 Posted by | environmental health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Tick-borne Disease Documented in Northeastern United States

July 14, 2013 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

   

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