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Gastro outbreak a sign of things to come from climate change



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Australian Greens Media Release

Dr Richard Di Natale Greens Senator for Victoria

16/01/2013

Gastro outbreak a sign of things to come from climate change

Greens health spokesperson, Dr Richard Di Natale, said today that the Gastroenteritis outbreak sweeping the world shows what we can expect if climate change continues unchecked.

A mutant norovirus bug has wreaked havoc in the UK causing outbreaks in hospital wards, nursing homes and businesses and it has been reported that up to 400,000 Australians could be hit by it this year.

“Many bugs that cause gastro tend to peak in summer and have a positive relationship with ambient temperature so Australians can expect to be exposed to more gastro causing bugs thanks to climate change,” said Senator Di Natale.

“Here in Australia there are about 5.4 million cases of foodborne gastroenteritis each year resulting in 80 deaths annually.

“A rise in gastroenteritis deaths is just one of the negative health risks of climate change. We can expect more frequent weather extremes which means more heat related illnesses and fatalities. Sadly older Australians, people with chronic illnesses and young children will be the most affected by all of these changes.

“The health impacts of climate change are often overlooked but the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, has identified climate change as the biggest threat to global health in the 21st century.

“Health is one of the issues that will be considered by a current senate inquiry into Australia’s preparedness for extreme weather events, moved by Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne. The government should pay close attention as we must do everything we can right now to prevent and manage the health risks posed by climate change.”

Media contact: Andrew Blyberg 0401 691 666