Viruses and climate change


Photo: mrfiza/

Photo: mrfiza/

The 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) is underway in Paris. An important issue that requires more attention is how climate change may lead to changes in virus populations.

Climate change and rising temperatures will make it possible for a variety of species to establish themselves both further to the north and further south than previously. These species can carry new viruses as “stowaways”. Also insects and migrating birds can bring with them viruses. There is a lack of knowledge about viruses in species that live in Antarctica and a lack of knowledge about how climate change may affect virus-host-environment interactions in the future. It would also be highly relevant to initiate monitoring of today’s viruses, as well as consider measures to prevent the spread, so as to avoid possible adverse effects on the ecosystem, as well as animal and public health.

In June 2014 GenØk published a report on viruses and climate change written by Terje Traavik. The issues raised in the report is currently very relevant and should be given more attention during the international climate discussions taking place in Paris.

Download and read the report: Climate Changes and Emerging Wildlife-Borne Viruses in Norway: – Facts, Uncertainty and Precaution