"All that, I think, is very much at the stage of theory," he noted.
Kennedy also pointed to studies predicting that climate change will cause malaria and other pathogens to spread across the globe. Cases of malaria have been recently documented at higher elevations in Central Africa, where warmer temperatures and increased precipitation have led to a more vertical distribution of mosquitoes.
"I dont think there are any really persuasive projections for how much additional malaria will be in the world as a consequence of climate change," he cautioned.
Pathogens and other organisms move freely around the globe even without human intervention, Kennedy said. For example, the Black Death originated in marmots in Asia and was transported in a series of steps along the Silk Road into Europe.
Today, globalization plays an increasingly important role in the transcontinental movement of pathogens, Kennedy maintained, although we seem to be doing little about it. He cited the uncontrolled discharge of ballast water from ships at ports around the world a practice that has been blamed for spreading tropical diseases and introducing countless exotic marine organisms that compete with native species.
The prospect of new outbreaks of infectious disease along with the recent anthrax attacks may finally prompt a much-needed review of Americas early warning health surveillance system, Kennedy predicted.
"We have a crappy public health infrastructure in this country poor coordination between local jurisdictions, states and federal," noted Kennedy, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "One of the aspects of anti-terrorist strategies in the United States, I thi
Contact: Mark Shwartz