February 16, 2015
1 min read

Minnesota climate change may increase allergies, Lyme disease

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Climatic change may lead to increases in allergies, Lyme disease and other airborne and bacterial diseases, according to a climate report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

The Minnesota Climate and Health Profile details how the state has grown warmer during the past several decades and indicates changes in weather patterns and how these changes may impact the state’s health.

The report expressed growing concerns regarding hazards such as greenhouse gases (GHG), particulate matter and ground-level ozone and the potential implications these increases will have on people with asthma, allergies, COPD and lung cancer.

“GHG emissions also cause higher ambient temperatures which facilitate chemical reactions that lead to toxic by-products, like ground-level ozone, which can aggravate certain conditions like asthma,” the report said.

As climate changes impact ecosystems and lead to less wildlife diversity, the report said Lyme disease as well as West Nile virus may affect more people.

Minnesota reported more than 18,000 cases of tick-borne diseases from 1996 to 2013, including more than 1,400 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in 2014. The report said those numbers likely will increase as the climate changes.

“By affecting the abundance, distribution, and behaviors of both vector and host, changes in seasonal temperatures and precipitation are leading to an expansion of Lyme risk,” according to the report.

Although the report focuses on the impacts of climate change in Minnesota, Kristin K. Raab said the results of the report impact everyone.

“While the report focused on Minnesota, many of the identified climate hazards and their corresponding health impacts, such as increases in air pollution, vector-borne diseases, extreme heat events, floods and droughts, are affecting cities and countries world-wide,” Raab, the Climate and Health Program Director for the state’s department of health, said. – by Ryan McDonald