Hantavirus and climate change

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When I first came to NSF to head up the Biological Sciences Directorate, I learned about a very interesting connection between climate change and human disease. Now hantaviruses are carried by rodents. In the Western Hemisphere, they cause serious cardiopulmonary disease in humans. In the Eastern Hemisphere, these viruses result in haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. The point is that their rodent hosts as migrating as the climate changes, so there are places in the US that now have the human disease that previously didn’t. You can read about that here.

Why am I writing about hantaviruses? Because it is a clearcut example where a viral-borne diseases affects a new, previously naive human population as a result of climate disruption. When species that act as reservoirs for viruses change their habitat to escape a warming climactic temperature, they act as vectors. Just as significant to public health as infected humans jumping on commercial airliners. For more on this notion in the context of COVID19, see here.