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Climate change is making rare diseases in the U.S. more common, Kansas City doctors say

Two men sit in a radio studio. The man at left is talking and the other is listening. They are sitting at microphones.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Dr. Rex Archer, left, and Dr. Gautam Desai talk about the local health implications of climate change on KCUR's Up To Date on Aug. 16, 2023.

July 2023 marked the hottest month on record. As climate conditions worsen and extreme weather events spread across the globe, so do uncommon diseases. Health experts warn of the health consequences of not addressing climate change.

Locally transmitted cases of malaria, a disease common to warmer regions of the world outside of the U.S., have been detected in Florida and Texas. While the risk of contracting the disease remains extremely low for most Americans, it should serve as a warning of the effects of climate change, according to local heath experts.

"The constant increases in temperature, and then the lack of the hard-freezing things over the winter — many of these insects and vectors then thrive and grow at faster rates," said Dr. Rex Archer, director of population and public health at Kansas City University.

Cases of Hansen's Disease, more commonly known as leprosy, have also increased in Florida.

The earth's rising temperature not only creates a more sustainable breeding ground for vector-borne illnesses like malaria and Lyme disease, but it also contributes to a rise in heatstroke,kidney disease and cardiovascular illness, respiratory illnesses including asthma and allergies.

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As a host and contributor at KCUR, I seek to create a more informed citizenry and richer community. I want to enlighten and inspire our audience by delivering the information they need with accuracy and urgency, clarifying what’s complicated and teasing out the complexities of what seems simple. I work to craft conversations that reveal realities in our midst and model civil discourse in a divided world. Follow me on Twitter @ptsbrian or email me at brian@kcur.org.
As a producer for Up To Date, my goal is to inform our audience by curating interesting and important conversations with reliable sources and individuals directly affected by a topic or issue. I strive for our program to be a place that hosts impactful conversations, providing our audience with greater knowledge, intrigue, compassion and entertainment. Contact me at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz.
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