, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 80-88
Date: 25 Feb 2012

The Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases in Migratory Birds: An Assessment of the Role of Climate Change and Priorities for Future Research


Pathogens that are maintained by wild birds occasionally jump to human hosts, causing considerable loss of life and disruption to global commerce. Preliminary evidence suggests that climate change and human movements and commerce may have played a role in recent range expansions of avian pathogens. Since the magnitude of climate change in the coming decades is predicted to exceed climatic changes in the recent past, there is an urgent need to determine the extent to which climate change may drive the spread of disease by avian migrants. In this review, we recommend actions intended to mitigate the impact of emergent pathogens of migratory birds on biodiversity and public health. Increased surveillance that builds upon existing bird banding networks is required to conclusively establish a link between climate and avian pathogens and to prevent pathogens with migratory bird reservoirs from spilling over to humans.