Gallery A

Bugs Moving North

page 2
Page 1

Impact Of Climate Change; New And Dangerous Diseases

By James Donahue

They call it climate change now instead of global warming. That is because of the extreme temperature range that accompanies our weather patterns. But there is a general agreement among researchers that our planet is heating, probably from the effects of industrial and automobile carbon emissions and escaping methane gas from under our warming oceans.

This is bringing a long list of changes to our climate, our coastlines, the intensity of the weather systems, the movement northward of a variety of birds, animals and insects that are following the warmth, and with them, a few deadly diseases that used to be inherent to tropical areas.

Following is a list of five of these dangerous diseases that appear to be migrating northward across North America as the world continues to warm.

There is a zombie-type amoeba called Naegleria now being found in the warming waters of inland lakes and streams in southern states where there is plenty of warm fresh water.

First discovered in Australia in 1965, this deadly little single-celled creature has somehow migrated to the United States where it has killed two people in Louisiana, a 9-year-old boy in Virginia and a 16-year-old girl in Florida, both of whom went swimming in local lakes and streams. People have also been infected in Texas.

This tiny killer attacks and kills its victims by eating their brains. It infects its victims by getting into the nose and working its way into the brain.

The Naegleria likes very warm water and has been known to survive in water heated to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. It has been found in not only warm lakes and ponds, but in slow-flowing warm streams in pools that stand during low water periods, untreated swimming pools and spas, well water, hot springs, aquariums, mud puddles and even the dust within homes.Lime Disease, caused by a bacterium carried by ticks believed to live mostly on mice, deer and chipmunks, is only recently being recognized as a serious problem in North America. This is because the early symptoms can be relatively mild, come on relatively slowly and mimic so many other human diseases that most people don’t realize they have been infected for years. Early symptoms include a red, itchy bite that can be marked by a reddish ring, followed by fever and perhaps a headache. Once the bacteria is in the bloodstream, however, Limes Disease affects the joints, muscles, nerves and other parts of the skin. It has been found that the disease can be treated by antibiotics if caught early. An estimated 20 percent of the victims suffer for years after being infected.

Mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria and dengue fever have been slowly working their way into North America where they have not been seen in years. Most cases in past years were brought to America by world travelers who had been in tropical parts of the world where mosquitos commonly carried the diseases. But the World Health Organization says they are being found farther and farther north, in areas were malaria carrying mosquitoes never lived before. Once eliminated completely in the U.S., malaria cases have been rising sharply since about 1990.

Symptoms of Malaria can range from relatively mild, like chills, headache, muscle ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The more severe cases lead to coma, severe breathing problems, severe anaemia and even death. The disease can be treated.Dengue fever comes on much like a mild case of malaria. Victims develop high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, skin rash and bleeding gums. This can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, swelling of the liver, massive bleeding, shock and death. There is no treatment except pain relievers but patients should not take aspirin or anything that thins the blood.

There is a fish poisoning called Ciguatera familiar with Florida and throughout the
Caribbean that is now making its way into North America. The disease, which is like an extreme case of food poisoning, is caused by eating fish that consume the algae of the coral reefs throughout the world. The disease causes extreme illness, including vomiting and diarrhea, plus a myriad of gastrointestinal, neurological and even cardiovascular problems that last for days, weeks and even months. The disease cannot be treated and cooking the fish does not destroy the toxin.

Finally we will examine the West Nile Virus, a serious disease that has been moving into North America in recent years. Found to be carried by mosquitoes that have fed on birds, this disease causes fever, vomiting, brain swelling and death. The CDC reports a total of 1,118 cases of West Nile Virus and 41 deaths in the United States during 2012 alone. This was the largest number of cases in the U.S. in one year since the disease was first found here in 1999.

Medical people say most people do not have symptoms when infected by West Nile Virus. But for those that do, the disease can be severe. It can bring on tremors, muscle aches and months of fatigue because it attacks the brain. Some symptoms may include memory loss, personality changes, paralysis and symptoms like Parkinson’s disease. These symptoms may last a long time.