Climate Change and Health: Pests and Contamination

Our warming climate is promoting more illness that thrives in hot weather and survives in milder winters.  Some of these infections are carried by pests (called vectors) such as mosquitoes and ticks. Others occur when people are exposed to contaminated water or food.

Vector-borne Diseases

Mosquitoes and ticks carry infections dangerous to humans like the West Nile and Zika viruses and Lyme disease. Earlier springs and warmer falls mean longer pest seasons. Warmer, more humid air makes for more favorable conditions for mosquitoes and even changes in behavior of ticks and where they live. Shorter, warmer winters mean less winter die-off as well.

Contaminated Food and Water 

Warm weather also makes many microorganisms grow more efficiently. Both food and water can become contaminated. Vulnerable individuals can get sick.