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Scientists have nicknamed them the “deadly dozen”: 12 diseases, lethal to humans and wildlife, that are increasing their geographical range.
Ebola, cholera, plague and sleeping sickness were among those identified yesterday by veterinary scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as spreading across the planet because of climate change. The scientists said that wildlife could give an early warning of the approach of diseases and save millions of people.
Researchers called for wildlife monitoring systems to be set up around the globe to watch for signs of disease among animals before it spreads and kills people. Monitoring networks have already been introduced in parts of the world and have proved successful in saving lives.
William Karesh, of the WCS, told the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conference in Barcelona that there was increasing concern about the impact that climate change would have on the spread of disease. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperatures were known to have an effect, though the reason was not always clear, he said at the launch of the report, The Deadly Dozen.