The recent hantavirus and West Nile virus outbreaks has increased public concern about diseases which Americans had forgotten still existed. Health officials are concerned that similar outbreaks may increase due to climate change.
Michael Osterhold, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota says that climate cycles very clearly play a part in outbreaks but how much is uncertain. “Eventually (climate change) will affect things, but is it now? We don’t know,” he says.
Wildlife and health experts are investigating the Yosemite outbreak to determine the cause, including looking at the climate conditions, tent design, and other factors. Danielle Buttke, a veterinary epidemiologist with the U.S. Public Health Service in Fort Collins, notes that both this year’s outbreak and the first big hantavirus outbreak in 1993 occurred when a very wet summer was followed by a mild winter.
West Nile has also been impacted by the climate. Drought conditions caused drying pools and other water sources, which gives the Culex mosquito, which carries the virus, a preferred location for breeding.
New Mexico has had cases of both hantavirus and West Nile in the past. As pest control specialists, we find that certain insects or rodents are more prevalent with certain weather conditions as well. Many household pests, such as spiders or moths are more common after mild winters because the freeze doesn’t kill them during the winter months. Many of these insects and rodents also seem to be more prevalent during the winter months because they are driven by the cold to find winter housing. Year-round pest control is the best option for addressing these “peak” conditions and keeping pests away from your home.climate condition, Culex Mostquitos, Hantavirus, Mice, mosquitos, Pest Control, Rodents, Spiders, West Nile Virus