Climate Change Will Directly Impact On Infectious Diseases In Australia

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1st June 2009, 12:22pm - Views: 947

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1 June 2009

Climate change will directly impact on infectious diseases in Australia 

Climate change is expected to have a direct impact on infectious diseases in Australia, but can

be minimised by forward planning and public health measures, says Dr Timothy Inglis, a

medical microbiologist at the QEII Medical Centre in Perth, writing in the latest edition of

Australian Prescriber.

In the last decade scientists have gained a better understanding of the links between complex

weather systems and human disease.

“Some notable correlations between weather systems and specific infectious diseases have

already been described, such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation and cholera in Bangladesh,”

Dr Inglis writes. 

In Australia, studies have shown links between high daytime temperatures, a low UV index, and

an increase in the number of children with gastroenteritis.

“A Darwin study found that in mosquito areas, rainfall and warm weather contribute to the

incidence of infections spread by mosquitoes. Climate change may increase this,” Dr Inglis


“Looking to the future, we can predict that there will be an increase in the number of people at

risk of getting dengue fever. For Australia, this means there may be more dengue fever

outbreaks in the north, and an extension of the at-risk area.” 

“Other mosquito-borne diseases including Ross River virus, Barmah Forest and Kunjin virus

infections, and Murray Valley encephalitis are likely to be affected by climate change, but this is

difficult to predict for a given geographical area.”

“Climate change-related increases in temperature will increase the risk of food-borne infections

such as salmonellosis and listeriosis.”

“Although climate change will probably affect the risk of getting an infectious disease, we cannot

accurately predict when, where or what diseases will become more common,” Dr Inglis


For full copies of the editorial visit

Media enquiries to Katie Butt, Media Adviser, 0419 618 365 or

Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health

professionals, particularly doctors in general practice. It is published by the National Prescribing Service Limited (NPS), an

independent, non-profit organisation for Quality Use of Medicines funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and

Ageing. Australian Prescriber is distributed every two months in hard copy to health professionals, free of charge, and online in full

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