Warming climate spreads tropical disease

Disease-carrying vectors moving farther northward into the United States

Rare diseases typically limited to tropical climates are becoming more prevalent in the United States than ever before, and some scientists believe climate change is partially to blame.

Diseases like schistosomiasis and dengue fever have long plagued warm, wet countries close to the equator, but volatile weather patterns and warming temperatures have influenced the spread of tropical diseases and their vectors in the U.S., according to ClimateWire.

Ben Beard, associate director for climate change at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said that warming climate and incidence of disease spread through vectors like mosquitoes are intimately linked. “Certainly, if you take a disease like dengue or West Nile virus, warmer temperatures allow the mosquito to replicate faster,” Beard said.

Additionally, he noted annual frosts tend to kill off vectors, but warmer seasons are delaying frost and pushing frost lines—and disease—farther northward.