A report from the National Wildlife Federation claims global climate change will lead to an increase in ticks, mosquitoes, other blood-sucking pests, and poison ivy.
The Associate Dean of the Department of Global Health at Des Moines University says the impact of climate change is definitely being felt in Iowa. Doctor Yogesh Shah took part in a conference call with reporters Tuesday to discuss the report. “Every increase in temperature by a degree or two increases the mosquito population by eight to tenfold,” Shah said.
The situation may be responsible for a recent increases of West Nile Virus. There were 44 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne illness in Iowa in 2013. That compares to just nine cases in 2011. The gradual increases in Iowa’s temperature and humidity has also increased the tick population, according to Shah, and that’s led to more cases of Lyme disease.
“We 250 cases of Lyme disease reported last year, which is a 40-percent increase over 2012,” Shah noted. It’s possible diseases considered exotic could someday show up in Iowa, Shah said. He noted four cases of the mosquito-borne disease Chikungunya — typically only found in Africa, Asia, and Europe — have been confirmed in Florida.
Joe Wilkinson, a past president of the Iowa Wildlife Federation, led Tuesday’s conference call. “Climate change is not so subtle anymore,” Wilkinson said. “Now the question is what are we going to do about it and when?” Wilkinson said. He hopes the report will raise public awareness and “make sure Iowans understand the significant impacts of climate change to our wildlife and public health.”
The report, titled “Ticked Off: America’s Outdoor Experience and Climate Change“, states extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, are becoming more severe and more frequent and it’s “impacting the plants and wildlife that are a central component of the American outdoor experience.”