Cities located in drought-stricken states around the U.S. are experiencing a dramatic spike in rabies outbreaks.
The outbreaks are being linked to warm weather and drought conditions, which are forcing infected animals to seek water and food in more urban areas. That is increasing infection rates and causing headaches for cities around the country.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the rash of outbreaks happening in water-deprived states:
While the number of reported rabid animals declined nationwide in 2010, according to the most recent federal data, states such as South Dakota, Kansas and Texas have recently seen a jump in the number of skunks testing positive. In drought-stricken Texas, more than 1,000 animals last year were exposed to rabid skunks, double the number in 2010. “More skunks seem to have migrated to suburban areas where there is water,” said Ernest Oertli, a veterinarian with the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Researchers continue to issue warnings about the link between global warming and the spread of zoonotic viral diseases like Rabies, Bird Flu and Yellow Fever.
A warming planet will limit biodiversity, change migration patterns of infected animals, and influence extreme weather patterns — creating ripe conditions for the spread of deadly diseases.
For example, changing temperatures are helping to spread dengue fever in 28 states; flooding in Australia has increased outbreaks of the deadly Hendra virus in humans; and a changing climate could also influence genetic changes in bacteria like E.Coli, making them more hearty and deadly.