AMA Urges Docs to Prepare for Climate-Related Illnesses

Florida has begun to see cases of dengue fever – a tropical disease rarely found in places as far north as the American continent.  Maine has seen a ten-fold increase in Lyme disease, as shortened winters fail to kill off the ticks that carry the disease. 

Now, the American Medical Association is citing these situations as examples of why physicians around the country must prepare for climate-related health problems among their patients.  In an editorial to its membership published Monday on its American Medical News web site, the AMA said:  “Patients are presenting with illnesses that once happened only in warmer areas. Chronic conditions are becoming aggravated by more frequent and extended heat waves. Allergy and asthma seasons are getting longer. Spates of injuries are resulting from more intense ice storms and snowstorms.  Scientific evidence shows that the world's climate is changing and that the results have public health consequences.”

To help its physicians prepare, the AMA has been hosting courses on climate change-related illnesses at its state chapters.  It is also recommending that members do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help stem climate change.  

“Treating diseases or conditions new to their location -- and finding the ones that are growing worse -- represent only part of the challenge to physicians presented by climate change. Physicians, like everyone else, can help fight the problem at the source by reducing waste and energy consumption through recycling and improving office energy efficiency.”  So can you!  Go to act.earthday.org and tell us about your Act of Green!