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Will climate change bring more disease?

06 June 2007

The climate is changing and warmer summers can seem like an appealing consequence. But milder temperatures increase the threat of infectious diseases arriving from Europe and further afield. 

Until recently, diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis and Lyme disease were considered exotic ailments but with predicted changes in climate and the right environmental conditions, these diseases have the potential to spread throughout Europe.

Join the scientists Thursday 7 June

These issues are being tackled this week when scientists from the EDEN project (Emerging Diseases in a changing European eNvironment) meet at the Natural History Museum. EDEN is a European Commission project involving 48 institutions in 24 countries.

Scientists from the project will talk about the work at a free Nature Live event this Thursday at 12.30. They will discuss what they are doing to monitor and predict changes in disease distribution and members of the public can join in the discussion.

Natural History Museum scientist Paul Ready is one of the EDEN members. Paul is studying Leishmaniasis, a disease that is spread by the sandfly. Symptoms of the disease include skin sores, fever and liver and spleen damage.

'A major challenge for this sort of research,' says Paul, 'is to distinguish between what climate change on its own might provoke, and what other environmental changes will be necessary to permit infectious diseases to spread - the ecological needs can be complex.'

The free Nature Live event is on 7 June at 12.30 in the Museum's Marine Invertebrates gallery

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