ENVIRONMENT
06/14/2011 02:18 pm ET Updated Aug 14, 2011

Plague Could Worsen With Climate Change

It seems the wetter things are the more plague there will be.

A new study, conducted by Chinese and Norwegian scientists, seems to suggest a connection between wetter climates and larger outbreaks of plague, according to LiveScience. As a result, as climates become wetter, the more likely it is that plague can spread.

Luckily, the bacteria that causes plague can be treated with antibiotics.

From LiveScience:

A bacterium called Yersinia pestis, which is carried by rodents, is responsible for three types of plague: bubonic (also called Black Death), septicemic and pneumonic plague. Together, these illnesses have been responsible for the deaths of millions of people the world over, including an estimated third of Europe's population during the Middle Ages. While modern antibiotics can effectively treat plague, thousands of cases are still reported each year to the World Health Organization, and the bacterium has been identified as a possible biological warfare agent.

The study looked at historical data to determine a correlation between the amount of precipitation and the spread of the disease. The team looked at figures from outbreaks in 1850 and 1964, when 1.6 million people became ill, as well as 500 years of data from 120 locations across China.

This study falls pretty much in line with previous studies that contended that climate change would lead to decreased plague outbreaks in drier areas, according to Reuters. In September 2008 a study said that as climate change created drier climates in the Western U.S., reported cases of the disease were expected to decrease.

Results of the latest study were published last week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.