Health - Dec 1
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Will global warming release diseases from glaciers?
Catherine Brahic, New Scientist
Evidence of flu viruses frozen in Siberian lakes has prompted researchers to examine the possibility that global warming may release microbes locked in glaciers for decades or even centuries.
“Our hypothesis is that influenza can survive in ice over the winter and re-infect birds as they come back in spring,” says Scott Rogers of Bowling Green State University, Ohio, US. He believes the frozen lakes act as "melting pots" for flu viruses, allowing viruses from one year to mix with those from previous years.
(29 Nov 2006)
UPDATE: Norman from the UK writes:
You may be interested in a novel that covers the above that I came across awhile ago.
Full Circle by Michael Boyle
Published by Publish America, Baltimore.
The above gives basic story line etc.
Analysis: Wealth brings new health threats
Olga Pierce, UPI
As the level of development worldwide increases, the greatest threats to health will shift from infectious diseases to non-communicable health problems like smoking-related illness, obesity and depression, according to updated data from the World Health Organization.
However, even given optimistic development projections, AIDS will continue to take a toll.
"As countries develop, they go through a transformation," lead researcher Colin Mathers, a statistician at the World Health Organization who specializes in global and regional health trends, told United Press International. "Along with development go improved living conditions, water sanitation and public health."
The seminal estimate of economic development's impact on future patterns of disease was made by Harvard University and WHO researchers in 1993 at the request of the World Bank. The data, though still widely cited, are somewhat incomplete and significantly underestimate the global effect of AIDS.
The updated version, which looks at three hypothetical scenarios of future global economic growth -- pessimistic, baseline and optimistic -- finds that in all three cases, the diseases of poverty recede to be replaced by diseases of increasing affluence.
Between 2002 and 2030 under all three scenarios life expectancy will increase around the world, and even the baseline scenario predicts 50 percent fewer children under the age of 5 will die.
If world economic growth is poor or moderate, by 2030 the three leading causes of illness will be AIDS, depression and heart disease, the study predicts. If economic growth is strong, road-traffic accidents -- a negative side effect of economic development -- will replace heart disease as the No. 3 killer.
... Two other problems developing countries must now grapple with are things that are often not thought of as problems at all: eating more and living longer.
In many developing countries there are simultaneous struggles with famine and obesity, Mathers said, a "double disease burden."
(27 Nov 2006)
Article is also posted on Monsters and Critics. Related article at New Scientist: WHO predicts death and disease in 2030.
Cooling towers are a hotspot for evolving disease
Cooling towers could be evolutionary hotspots for new respiratory diseases.
Many species of bacteria, including those that cause legionnaires' disease, are thought to have evolved in association with an amoebic host. Now it seems that the warm, wet conditions found in cooling towers at factories and oil refineries make them a perfect spot for amoebas and bacteria to thrive, increasing the chances of new strains of pathogenic bacteria emerging.
Sharon Berk of Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville and her colleagues have found that amoebas in cooling towers are about 16 times as likely to host bacteria as those in ponds and lakes.
(26 Aug 2006)
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