In Australia, a virus called Hendra, which has had a 60 percent mortality rate in humans, is on the rise. There were 18 outbreaks of the disease this year, more than in the 16 previous years combined, and scientists suspect that climate change had a hand in this year's surge.
An animal-borne disease like West Nile or SARS, Hendra can be transmitted from fruit bats to horses to humans. Only seven humans have been infected with Hendra so far, but scientists believe that flooding in Australia is connected with the increase in Hendra outbreaks. In this type of ecological upheaval, infected animals range more widely and encounter humans more often. Also, it stresses bats out, which makes them more likely to carry the virus.
Australia's kind of screwed when it comes to climate change, which means there’s going to be more crazy bat-stressing weather, which means more diseases like Hendra could catapult into the ranks of truly nasty and widespread zoonotic diseases. (AIDS, anyone?) In short, we’re all going to die!
- Climate change boosts a lethal disease, The Daily Climate
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