My name is Nora Hill, I'm a senior in high school at the Vermont Commons School. My social studies class has allowed us to spend 20% of our time focused on a current day global issue that interests us, and I have chosen the effect climate change will have on infectious diseases. This blog will be my process of learning about the issue and what I can do to address it.
Climate change is arguably the biggest issue facing my generation, but many people don't realize how far reaching these effects will be. Climate change will change global health, particularly with climate sensitive diseases that are food borne, air borne, insect borne, and water borne. Some of the most climate sensitive disease are: malaria, cholera, Lyme Disease, and West Nile virus. For general information on the impact of climate change on infectious disease check out this information from WHO .

Monday, October 27, 2014

Local Roots: Vermont

I have lived in Vermont almost my whole life, so when asked to do a project that would service the community, I immediately thought of the Vermont community. Will vermont face a threat from climate sensitive infectious diseases? Vermont is already taking action around this problem, in fact here are a few videos that discuss the situation in Vermont. This Video1 features David Grass, from the Department of Health in Vermont. This Video2 from WCAX prepares viewers for the increased risk of infectious diseases in Vermont. West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease are the two most climate sensitive infectious disease that are a threat to Vermonters currently. If you don't like to watch videos, here is an article on the Vermont climate change protocol. This discusses legally what Vermont is planning and preparing for. This is important to read and understand, as it will be much easier to change in its infancy than later once it has gained traction.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The WHO and the WMO Take Action

I recently found a blog, which reports that the WMO, World Meteorological Organization, and WHO have started gathering information, data, and prediction from both medical and climate scientists. The publication will be called Case Studies on Climate Services for Health, this is a follow up to the 2012 publication  The Atlas on Climate and Health.  This was jointly publish by the WHO and the WMO.  The new publication aims to highlight a full spectrum of climate related health issues and risks, including infectious diseases, air pollution, water shortages, and extreme weather events.

Global Perspectives

So, what is the global community saying about how climate change is affecting disease? Right now, there is a focus on the Ebola outbreak. While this has less to do with the changes in where diseases will be located or with how vector born disease will migrate, there is still a connection. Scientists are saying that climate change has had a hand in the outbreak, extreme dry seasons followed by heavy rain increase the chance of the disease to spread through the animal population. Animals will gather together to eat the fruit produced by these seasons and the disease will spread among species. These weather patterns also mean food shortages in Africa, which in turns means people have to find different food sources, in this case "bush meat." In fact, "bush meat" consumption and handling has been linked to almost 50% of the current Ebola cases. However, it's not just Ebola that has people talking.
The World Health Organization, WHO, has warned that infectious diseases that are known to be climate sensitive: malaria, dengue fever, West Nile Virus, cholera and lyme disease are expected to intensify due to higher temperatures and extreme weather events. The WHO says that these increases are a result of "the combined impacts of rapid demographic, environmental, social, technological, and other changes in our ways-of-living. Climate change will also affect infectious disease occurrence." 

When facing a issue with global implications, the world has to respond, and with an issue as far reaching as this, we will not only have to address the current problems, but also find a solution for the deeper cause that is climate change. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I'm interested and How I've been educating myself:

So, why would a teenager be interested in how climate change is affecting disease?
I'm not a climate changer researcher, nor am I a physician. However, I am interested in both these topics, and my interest has led me to their interception: how climate change is changing the patterns of infectious disease. I'm not sure yet how I can counteract this problem, but I imagine it will be educating myself and then perhaps raising awareness of this issue and what we can do to combat it. This is not a problem commonly associated with climate change, but it should be, and in the coming years, needs to be.