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Page added on October 30, 2007

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Rising temperatures will drive up sickness

AS climate change turns up the heat, more Australians will have heart attacks, strokes, food poisoning and a range of insect-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria.

Worrying rises in depression and obesity are also linked to climate change, according to Healthy Planet, Places and People, a report released yesterday by Research Australia, a national non-profit alliance of health and medical research organisations.
To assess the health risks Australians faced from climate change, the report’s lead author, epidemiologist Tony McMichael, and his team pulled together findings from a diverse group of experts, from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology to Sydney’s Macquarie University and the ANU.

The team reported numerous direct impacts: the frequency of heatwaves would cause up to three times more deaths from heat attacks, strokes and respiratory disease by 2050; and extreme events like the current drought and the Queensland storms would cause an increase in mental stress and depression.

Even humble disorders such as temperature-sensitive salmonella food poisoning would rise.

“There are over five million cases each year of salmonella, costing Australia $1.2 billion,” Professor McMichael said.

“We’re not talking about exotic new diseases. Many problems are already, excuse the expression, already on our plate.” He said he hoped the matter would be on the policy agenda of whoever won next month’s federal election.

The Australian (Australia)



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