Article from reason by Ronald Bailey.

“Climate change needs to be put out there as a major driver of vector-borne disease in the U.S.,” Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Texas’ Baylor College of Medicine, toldGizmodo. This was in response to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reports of vector-borne diseases have tripled since 2004. These infectious illnesses include Lyme disease that is spread by ticks, and West Nile and Zika viruses spread by mosquitoes. The CDC report is indeed alarming, but not chiefly because climate change is exacerbating certain infectious maladies. Instead, the increase in vector-borne illnesses identified by the CDC says much more about how the proliferation of regulatory barriers is slowing the development and deployment of modern technologies to prevent the spread of disease.

While it is likely that warmer temperatures do create more favorable conditions for some disease-carrying species of mosquitoes and ticks to proliferate, preventing climate change is not the way humanity will eventually control these diseases. Vector control and vaccines are.

Consider the cases of malaria and yellow fever, both of which were mosquito-borne illnesses that afflicted much of the United States until the 20th century. They were eliminated by draining swamps, dusting breeding areas with insecticides like DDT, and installing more window screens in houses. Intensive mosquito control efforts were actually able to eliminate Zika virus in the Miami, Florida, area.

New vector control methods include genetic changes that prevent mosquitoes and ticks from harboring disease microbes or by eliminating the blood-sucking parasites themselves. For example, researchers have suggested that they could break the chain of Lyme disease infection by engineering a gene drive that would prevent mice upon which Lyme disease-carrying ticks feed from becoming infected with the microbe. A gene drive works by making sure that both copies of a targeted natural gene are replaced with the engineered version, so that a desired trait will spread rapidly through a whole population of sexually reproducing organisms.

Read the entire article at Reason.

Image Credit: By Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Self-published work by AndreasPraefcke) [CC BY 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons