Parasites May Get Nastier With Climate Swings
Parasites look set to become more virulent because of climate change, according to a study showing that frogs suffer more infections from a fungus when exposed to unexpected swings in temperatures. Parasites, which include tapeworms, the tiny organisms that cause malaria and funguses, may be more nimble at adapting to climatic shifts than the animals they live on since they are smaller and grow more quickly, scientists said.
“Increases in climate variability are likely to make it easier for parasites to infect their hosts,” said Thomas Raffel of Oakland University, who led a report that will be published in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We think this could exacerbate the effects of some disease.” A U.N. panel of experts says that global warming is expected to add to human suffering from more heatwaves, floods, storms, fires and droughts, and have effects such as spreading the ranges of some diseases. And climate change, blamed on greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels, is also likely to mean more swings in temperatures.