Global Warming and War Aid the Spread of Flesh Eating Viruses

August 16, 2007 at 10:59 am (frightening things) (, , , , )

From a Treehugger post aptly titled Global Warming Wants to Eat Your Flesh:

Now that our breakfasts are properly secured, we can tell you that scientists at the University of Hull and Kent in the U.K. warn of a dramatic uptick in the numbers of people suffering Leishmaniasis, a flesh-eating and sometimes fatal disease, should global warming continue its current course.

This festive disease is caused by a parasite transmitted through the bites of sand flies, found typically only in tropical climes. As temperatures increase, however, so will the number of countries the sand fly will find inhabitable, as it moves further north and through Europe, say university scientists.

There are currently 12 million people worldwide suffering this affliction. 2 million new cases will spring up this year, and 350 million are at risk for catching the disease.

The “war on terror” only exacerbates the problem.

Because of travel and tourism, nations already affected by the disease are on the rise. Military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are exposed to conditions ripe for developing Leishmaniasis.

Global warming and the military presence in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan mean that this horrific and debilitating disease is affecting more people than ever before,” says Dr. Ross Boyle, lead researcher on the project at the University of Hull. “My co-investigator, Dr. Tim Paget at the Medway School of Pharmacy, Hull PhD student Carrie-Anne Bristow and myself wanted to work towards finding a significantly better treatment.”

And a special note to Daisy: your global warming prophecy was correct.

It manifests itself in one of three ways: The less-severe cutaneous type results in large, unpleasant sores, while the mucoutaneous variety attacks the mucous membranes and eats away at parts of the body such as the lips and nose. The visceral form is the worst; it attacks the body systemically and leads to death within as little as a few months.

Although current treatments are available (with nasty side effects, to boot), the need for alternative methods is vital because of increasing drug resistance by the parasite, say researchers.



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