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Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl. 2015 Aug 28;4(3):452-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2015.07.001. eCollection 2015 Dec.

Climate change, biodiversity, ticks and tick-borne diseases: The butterfly effect.

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1
Department of Immunology, Aggeu Magalhães Research Centre, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, 50740465 Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil; Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Bari, 70010 Valenzano, Italy.

Abstract

We have killed wild animals for obtaining food and decimated forests for many reasons. Nowadays, we are burning fossil fuels as never before and even exploring petroleum in deep waters. The impact of these activities on our planet is now visible to the naked eye and the debate on climate change is warming up in scientific meetings and becoming a priority on the agenda of both scientists and policy decision makers. On the occasion of the Impact of Environmental Changes on Infectious Diseases (IECID) meeting, held in the 2015 in Sitges, Spain, I was invited to give a keynote talk on climate change, biodiversity, ticks and tick-borne diseases. The aim of the present article is to logically extend my rationale presented on the occasion of the IECID meeting. This article is not intended to be an exhaustive review, but an essay on climate change, biodiversity, ticks and tick-borne diseases. It may be anticipated that warmer winters and extended autumn and spring seasons will continue to drive the expansion of the distribution of some tick species (e.g., Ixodes ricinus) to northern latitudes and to higher altitudes. Nonetheless, further studies are advocated to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between landscape, climate, host communities (biodiversity), tick demography, pathogen diversity, human demography, human behaviour, economics, and politics, also considering all ecological processes (e.g., trophic cascades) and other possible interacting effects (e.g., mutual effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions and increased deforestation rates). The multitude of variables and interacting factors involved, and their complexity and dynamism, make tick-borne transmission systems beyond (current) human comprehension. That is, perhaps, the main reason for our inability to precisely predict new epidemics of vector-borne diseases in general.

KEYWORDS:

Biodiversity; Climate change; Tick-borne diseases; Ticks

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