Global Warming behind Austrian Encephalitis Case

More Signs of the Apocalypse


Posted online: Friday, August 29, 2008 at 2:48:25 PM

Report Confirms Four Austrians Suffer Tick-borne Encephalitis from Cheese

Medical experts confirmed on Thursday that four people recently fell ill with tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) in western Austria after eating homemade goats’ cheese.

A shepherd in western Vorarlberg province, who had checked into hospital in July with flu-like symptoms, was found to have the illness following a blood test.

But the man said he had noticed no tick bites, the usual method of transmission, two experts from the Institute of Virology at Vienna Medical University wrote in an article published Thursday.

Doctors finally traced the cause of the illness to the cheese, which the shepherd had made from unpasteurised goat’s and cow’s milk on an isolated pasture at over 1,560-metre (5,120-feet) altitude.

Three other members of his family, who had not been on the pasture, also exhibited flu-like symptoms and headaches.

Further tests found that one of the goats, whose milk had been used to make the cheese, as well as other animals who had eaten leftovers, had developed TBE anti-bodies, meaning they had also been infected.

Ticks were believed until now to be found only below 1,350-metre altitude, but this may have changed due to global warming, the experts said.

Cases of TBE infections via dairy products were reported in recent years almost exclusively in Baltic countries.

Unfortunately, the article does not say just who the experts are.

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anna v
August 30, 2008 11:22 am

We have a greek proverb: whenever you year of many cherries, take a small basket.
This is completely anecdotal unless one has the history of the goat ( I know that goats are transferred from field to field in modern days by truck), whether any ticks have been found at such height ( in contrast to fold wisdom that they do not survive over 1000 meters) are the two questions that come to mind, before, even anecdotally, one blames global warming for this.
We have some cases of tick born encephalitis in the news recently from northern greece, and instruction of what to do if bitten by a tick.

Bruce Cobb
August 30, 2008 11:50 am

Well, it may have changed due to warming, or it may not have. The insidious thing is that when they say global warming, what they mean is man-made global warming. AGW is the modern-day bogey-man and scapegoat for anything bad that happens.

August 30, 2008 12:00 pm

“Unfortunately, the article does not say just who the experts are.”
Nor did is say if the isolated pasture is south facing or has other attributes beside global warming. I wonder if ticks hitch rides on birds.
Lessee, 200m elevation change, dry adiabat is 1F per 200′, so 1.5C per 100m, so about 3C due to elevation alone. Seems a bit much given the changes over the last decade (about 0C).
At least they didn’t blame it on climate change.

Bill in Vigo
August 30, 2008 12:08 pm

I wonder where the goat came from and how long ago it was there. And did any one see the tick? If I remember correctly they move the goats around high pastures in summer and low pastures in winter. Also when was the cheese made? This story has no classic investigative information. I think this is just a convenient way to warm up the warm story.
Bill Derryberry

August 30, 2008 1:12 pm

Isn’t Rocky Mountain spotted fever spread by ticks? Perhaps they meant the tick variety found in Austria. I guess Anthony provided that photo of a deer tick.
Global Warming has caused a number of bloodsuckers to crawl out of the woodwork. I guess it could cause higher altitude ticks as well.

retired engineer
August 30, 2008 1:22 pm

I didn’t know tics had built-in altimiters. Perhaps there is an EU regulation governing their maximum altitude? Arrest those parasites!

It is climate preference zones, not air pressure, that determine where many critters live. – Anthony

August 30, 2008 1:33 pm

Is it global warming’s fault? Is it the tick’s fault? Is it the shepards fault for not processing the cheese correctly? Who can I sue?

Leon Brozyna
August 30, 2008 3:55 pm

Last century, before AGW became the biggest hobgoblin of all time, an unusual or odd event was treated as being just that – an unusual or odd event.
Now there aren’t unusual or odd events; everything’s root cause is AGW.

August 30, 2008 5:50 pm

This has to be one of the weakest global warming claims yet. It seems like we’re winning when they get this desperate.

spangled drongo
August 30, 2008 8:52 pm

I recently enquired of a local scientist whether a paralysis tick that was reported by our early explorers in the Australian Alps is still recorded there.
He said it wasn’t.
It seems it was warmer in 1824 in these alps than now.
These ticks however, certainly hitch a ride on birds and most other animals.

Neil Jones
August 31, 2008 1:43 am

In the Swiss Alps animals walk from low to high pastures as it is impossible to move them by vehicles, the tracks being to narrow and steep. Could the dame be true in parts of Austria?

September 1, 2008 4:19 am

TBE is a big problem in Siberia, well known for its balmy weather. Actually the two worst areas I know for ticks is Eastern Siberia and the area around Lake Superior, both with extremely cold winters. So apparently ticks can stand very cold winters, provided summers are warm enough. Here in Sweden we have TBE almost to the Arctic Circle so those 1350 meters in the Alps are probably a bit optimistic.

September 2, 2008 5:32 am

It has been stated that increased CO2 has increased primary production, so probably the pasturage at higher altitudes has improved. Where the grazing animals go, so go the ticks.

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