Taken in isolation, the news reports that polio appears to have returned to Syria for the first time since the late 1990s, that dengue and yellow fever is showing up across the southern United States and that Texas has had its worst year ever for West Nile virus all seem like separate disease outbreaks.
And they are. But taken together, they should also serve as a reminder that disease, especially infectious disease, doesn’t spread independent of human behavior – and bad behavior on the other side of the planet can kill here.
If polio is confirmed in Syria, most would agree it’s legit to blame this on the disruption in public health services due to the civil war.
The rise of dengue and yellow fever in Los Angeles or Dallas is sometimes attributed to warming temperatures due to climate change, which it may be, but the spread of these ‘tropical diseases’ out of the tropics is also just as likely the result of growing global urbanization (the mosquitoes that carry these bugs seem to like cities), long-distance travel and ineffective disease control measures.
Read the rest of the blog post here.