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"Ratpocalypse" pest control issues with rats
‘Ratpocalypse’ Caused by Climate Change Could Increase Spread of Disease   "ACES pest control attended Dr Corrigans " Rat Acadamy" course in 2016 NPMA  Seattle meeting. It was standing room only! Bobby is the "go to guy" when all the other Pest Control Companies have tried and failed.  Bobby has a  scientific approach and has a Doctorate in Science. We hope you enjoy this article featuring Bobby as much as we enjoyed his course."    Milder winters allow rats to have more litters, and their population explosion could help spread diseases such as E. coli and bubonic plague. Is America on the verge of a ratpocalypse? Experts and officials are documenting growing numbers of rats across the United States, a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. However, rats are notoriously difficult to study. The exact number of rat populations is unclear. In New York, for example, estimates range from 250,000 on the low end up to tens of millions.   The only thing certain is the numbers are growing. In July, New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, pledged $32 million to combat the rodents. The city wants more rat corpses, he announced. New York may be the most prominent city in the United States to tackle its highly visible rat problem, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Other major metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, and Washington have all reported increased sightings. Milder winters mean more rats Bobby Corrigan, who holds a doctorate in rodentology, and is one of the nation’s leading experts on rats, told Healthline that if you spoke to health departments in 25 different cities, they’d all tell you we have more rats now than ever before. Even though that’s not empirical, that’s a pretty darn good indication, he said. Corrigan attributes growing rat populations in the United States and around the world to milder winters and growing human populations. Rats tend to reproduce less during the winter as cold weather makes it harder for the rodents to survive. But, as winters have become milder due in part to climate change over the past decade, rats have been able to produce extra litters.   More rats mean more disease The warmer weather also cascades down onto the various other parasites and bugs that depend on rats for survival. Disease-carrying ticks, mites, lice, and fleas are all more likely to survive and reproduce during mild winters. A similar problem manifested earlier this year when reports of increased tick-borne illnesses were largely attributed to booming populations of mice  the critters that spread ticks throughout forested areas. Simply put, says Corrigan, Winter doesn’t kill as much anymore because we don’t have hard winters. The risks of booming rat populations are manifold. The various ectoparasites that feed on rats are capable of spreading many different diseases, including rat bite fever and bubonic plague. While the plague is uncommon in the United States today, it still appears periodically, including this year in New Mexico. However, rats don’t even need to carry ectoparasites to spread disease. In fact, they are more than capable of spreading zoonotic diseases through contact with their urine and feces. A study from Columbia University in 2014 found that rats in New York carried everything from E. coli and salmonella to Seoul hantavirus and C. difficile. They don’t carry rabies. That’s the good news, says Corrigan.   Solutions are difficult The federal government isn’t actually involved in controlling rat populations as it is with many other public health problems. Between 1969 and 1982, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doled out grants to different cities under its Urban Rat Control program, but that ended under former President Ronald Reagan. A CDC spokesperson confirmed to Healthline that it no longer has any involvement with rat control. Since then, cities, businesses, and citizens have had to fend for themselves. You’re only as good as your worst neighbor down the street or outside the door who doesn’t do their trash right, said Corrigan.   People are the problem This leads to the second major part of the rat boom: humans. Rats have been called the mirror species of humans. When we thrive, they thrive. They share and inhabit the same cities that we do. More people, more trash, more trash, more pests, said Corrigan. For better or worse then, the solution to the rat problem begins with the human problem of waste management. That’s a mammal that needs the same thing you and I need. It needs food every single day. It needs water every day, explained Corrigan. If you have 16 rats, just one family of rats, they need a pound of food every night. That’s seven pounds of food every week going into those rats’ bellies, he noted. The implication is clear: Rats are getting all the food they need from humans. And while calls to pest control services are up across the country, and cities are trying new methods for killing rats  like using dry ice to suffocate them in their nests  in New York, Corrigan’s approach is far more benign. The only solution, according to Corrigan, is an approach that includes individual and government cooperation between everyone from city task forces, to grocery store and restaurant owners, to homeowners. If you want to keep rats out of your home and help control populations, it comes down to two things, he said. Ensure that all doors, including garage doors, leading into and out of your home are tightly closed. You should not be able to roll a number two pencil under a door, Corrigan said. The second is securing garbage appropriately.  Everybody thinks anybody can take out the garbage, so sometimes they’ll give it to the children to take out the garbage, says Corrigan. Taking out the garbage and storing the garbage correctly is something that needs attention. Instead of hiring an exterminator or putting out poison bait, why don’t you just simply get a better garbage can? he said.   "When ACES spoke to Bobby between lectures, he mentioned that high numbers of rats must always go hand in hand with a large food source. And he pointed out that the Vancouver rat study is showing   that the pest control of rats while  effective, creates a vacant territory, which other rats eventually move into with time. Meaning the net result is zero. He concluded in his course that the long term solution for urban rats is how humans manage the environment around them." Adapted from an article  by Gigen Mammoser

Jack- the awesome pest controller!!!!!
Got rats? Call Jack, Vancouver's only working canine exterminator He's cute. He's cuddly. And he's a killer.   ACES pest control once had the help of a customers dog finding rats. Jenny Jones told ACES her dog knows were the rats are. We did our inspection and an hour later, YES you guessed it Jennys dog was 100% correct! Some dogs are awesome pest controllers!   "Jack, the rat terrier, gets ready for work. His hearing is so acute he can hear the sound of a rat's heart beating.   Rat population boom blamed on cold B.C. winter Yoram Adler can't imagine a better work colleague. Jack is always up, always ready to take on a tough job, and always ready to kill.  "My daughter didn't want me to tell you this, but he's killed 36 rats and 11 mice. And two squirrels, by mistake," said Adler. At a mere 10 kilograms, the six-year-old rat terrier doesn't look lethal. On the contrary, he exudes the happy agreeability of a puppy. As for the killing part, he can't help it.  Seeking and destroying rodents is exactly what Jack was bred to do. It's also what makes him the perfect partner for Adler, an exterminator and co-owner of Vancouver's Integrated Pest Management. Targets rats "I love my canine partner. And I love the fact that he loves his work," said Adler, who believes Jack is the only working dog exterminator in B.C.'s Lower Mainland. Jack has been on the job for five years, targeting suspected rats with his keen sense of smell, strong prey drive, and hypersonic-like speed. Small size, big job Jack can smell mice, rats, squirrels and even bed bugs. His small size allows him to get into places humans cannot. (David Horemans/CBC) "Generally in the wintertime there's a lot more rodent calls than in the summer," said Adler. "He is able to inspect garages, basements and crawl spaces, and stick his nose under stuff and smell. When he finds his prey, he'll paw or bark to alert Adler. "Usually, he barks to tell me where they are. He'll also show me their routes  you know, where they are running." Adler said Jack will catch and kill rats and mice if he can. But when it comes to squirrels, Adler deploys his dog differently. Jack the chaser "We call it squirrel evictions," he said. "We'll go up in an attic and I'll give him a go word, which is 'Chippy.' I ask him, 'where's Chippy?' And he'll make a lot of noise growling and barking. "The squirrels hear that and run out. He's not the killer in that situation. He chases them out and then we block the entrance point with a one-way door — in case there are other squirrels still inside — or with mesh." To keep his skills sharp, Adler sometimes brings Jack to a downtown SkyTrain station where training doubles as community service. "He killed three rats there one night. I don't want to tell you which station, though. People will think it's overrun with rats." 'He just had to be taught' Jack has also become an expert in bed bug detection, something rat terriers don't normally do. Adler recognized how valuable the skill would be and set about finding someone locally who could train him. In the end, he hired a retired customs dog trainer, who, over a six-month period, schooled Jack in the canine craft of finding bedbugs. "The customs trainer trained him the same way as when they teach the customs dogs to find drugs and money," said Adler. "I knew he could do it, he just had to be taught." President's pooch As a breed, rat terriers grew in prominence at the turn of the last century when  as the story goes President Teddy Roosevelt used them to rid the White House of a terrible rat infestation.  Adler calls Roosevelt "one of my history heroes," and credits the story for making him aware of the breed. When his daughter started begging for a puppy, he thought, 'why not get one that could help on the job?'  Working dogs don't always make good family pets but Jack has proven an easy fit in both worlds.  "He cuddles up on the couch and watches the Canucks' games with me," Adler said. "He sleeps on our bed and tries to lick our faces after he's done his work, which my wife doesn't necessarily like," said Adler. Job well done With another site cleared, Jack jumps into Adler's trunk. The two will head home for some play time, treats and rest before the next call. (David Horemans/CBC) Adler has never advertised Jack's services because there's never been a shortage of word-of-mouth referrals. But he is considering putting the dog's photo on a new work truck, which is set to hit the road. "People like the dog, they gravitate towards the dog because he's very friendly," Adler said. "But mostly they like that there's a canine expert inspecting their house." adapted from and article by Karin Larsen, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/got-rats-call-jack-vancouver-s-only-working-canine-exterminator-1.4214003

rats and housing issues
  ACES pest control is often asked to work with either the tenant or the landlord on the issue of rodent control. ACES provides online payment meaning the landlord doesnt have to be present to make payment at the appointment date.    Tenant with rats in walls can't afford to move     A woman living in a Wellington flat with rats in the walls says the Prime Minister's view that soaring rental prices are a sign of "success" is stupid and ridiculous. A social housing provider said the shortage in the capital was the worst it had been. Yet Prime Minister Bill English remains steadfast that there is no housing crisis. Rental prices shot up 7 percent last year in Wellington to a median of $480 a week. At the same time, the number of properties available for rent plunged. Wellington's prices are just shy of Auckland's. When asked if he was concerned that a queue of prospective renters lined up outside a flat in Wellington at the weekend, Mr English said the heated Wellington rental market was a "problem of success". The rental squeeze was a concern for people looking for accommodation in the capital, but he believed the Wellington City Council understood the problem, he said. "I hope they [the council] are working hard to enable the development that's needed," he said. "Wellington hasn't experienced pressure on its housing market for quite a long time. And as long as they respond quickly, they'll be able to deal with it." Mr English maintained housing was not as big an issue as some said. "No, I don't think there's a housing crisis". A renter from the suburb of Brooklyn said she, her partner and their newborn baby live in a house with rats in the walls. She said it was covered in black mould when they moved in. They could not afford something better so were reluctantly renewing their lease. RatsA Brooklyn renter says she is living with rodents because she can't afford to move. Photo: 123RF For that reason she asked RNZ not to use her name. When asked what she made of Mr English's comment, she said, "Success for whom?" "We went to a whole bunch of open homes and you just see so many people that are in similar situations to us, or have more kids, it's just impossible. "Is the city, are the councillors, successful because a whole bunch of people in their city can't find a place to live? It's just stupid." Labour's housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said Mr English's comment showed he was out of touch. "This is a housing market that is beginning to look like Auckland and some of the other markets around the country - it's enriching landlords, speculators and those who own their own homes, but it's impoverishing everyone else, including the half of the population that are renters. "This is not good news," Mr Twyford said. At a public meeting on renting in Wellington last night, social housing provider Dwell chief executive Alison Cadman said there was a housing need in Wellington when she started the job 13 years ago. "I hoped at that time I'd stand here 13 years later, today, and say things are better - but they're just a whole lot worse," she told the meeting, which was organised by the Labour Party. "On top of being a whole lot worse, I just think the stories are a lot sadder and a lot more complex as well." Ms Cadman said since 2001 the Wellington region had lost more than 1200 social houses. The region was going backwards "big-time", she said. by Benedict Collins

worlds most deadly
What do Odysseus and TV wildlife expert Steve Irwin have in common? (Stingray barbs killed them both.) What is the most venomous creature in the world? (The Australian box jellyfish.) What does it feel like to get high on cobra venom? (Weird.) Could bee venom cure Lyme disease? (Possibly.) These are some of the fascinating stories Christie Wilcox tells in Venomous: How Earth's Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry. When National Geographic caught up with her by phone in Hawaii, she explained why the king cobra packs such a punch; how snakes may have helped our ancestors evolve bigger brains; and why the Gila monster’s venom may hold the key to the treatment of diabetes and even Alzheimer’s. [Find out about the medical potential of venom.] Let’s cut to the chase: What are the five most dangerous venomous creatures in the world? Oh, I love that question! [Laughs uproariously] You have to give snakes their due because overall snakes kill 90,000-plus people a year and disable countless more—though the sad fact is we don’t exactly know [how many] because a lot of these places are poor and don’t have medical systems that allow good reporting. The main places people are dying are Africa, Sri Lanka, India, and South America. In Africa there is a snake bite crisis because not only do they have deadly snakes that cause significant morbidity and mortality, but the only good antivenom we used to have is not being made anymore. At the top of the snake list is the king cobra. Compared to other snakes, their venom isn’t particularly potent, but they can inject massive volumes and they’re huge, seven-to-eight-foot-long snakes. Next, I would put the Australian box jellyfish because they can kill in less than five minutes. The Conus geographus, or geographic cone snail, has a 70 to 80 percent fatality rate when it stings but, luckily for us, it’s very rare. I would also include the Lonomia caterpillar because I like the way it kills. [Laughs] It’s this tiny, furry caterpillar, but it can cause massive internal hemorrhaging. That’s just so badass. [Laughs] Number one is the mosquito, though. And I have a specific reason for saying that. When people talk about venomous, they talk about venomous to humans. And by far and away the most dangerous creatures to humans on this planet, other than ourselves, are mosquitoes. By Simon Worrall

rat exterminator north shore
First, the myths. There are no “super rats”. Apart from a specific subtropical breed, they do not get much bigger than 20 inches long, including the tail. They are not blind, nor are they afraid of cats. They do not carry rabies. They do not, as was reported in 1969 regarding an island in Indonesia, fall from the sky. Their communities are not led by elusive, giant “king rats”. Rat skeletons cannot liquefy and reconstitute at will. (For some otherwise rational people, this is a genuine concern.) They are not indestructible, and there are not as many of them as we think. The one-rat-per-human in New York City estimate is pure fiction. Consider this the good news. In most other respects, “the rat problem”, as it has come to be known, is a perfect nightmare. Wherever humans go, rats follow, forming shadow cities under our metropolises and hollows beneath our farmlands. They thrive in our squalor, making homes of our sewers, abandoned alleys, and neglected parks. They poison food, bite babies, undermine buildings, spread disease, decimate crop yields, and very occasionally eat people alive. A male and female left to their own devices for one year – the average lifespan of a city rat – can beget 15,000 descendants. There may be no “king rat”, but there are “rat kings”, groups of up to 30 rats whose tails have knotted together to form one giant, swirling mass. Rats may be unable to liquefy their bones to slide under doors, but they don’t need to: their skeletons are so flexible that they can squeeze their way through any hole or crack wider than half an inch. They are cannibals, and they sometimes laugh (sort of) – especially when tickled. They can appear en masse, as if from nowhere, moving as fast as seven feet per second. They do not carry rabies, but a 2014 study from Columbia University found that the average New York City subway rat carried 18 viruses previously unknown to science, along with dozens of familiar, dangerous pathogens, such as C difficile andhepatitis C. As recently as 1994 there was a major recurrence of bubonic plague in India, an unpleasant flashback to the 14th century, when that rat-borne illness killed 25 million people in five years. Collectively, rats are responsible for more human death than any other mammal on earth. Humans have a peculiar talent for exterminating other species. In the case of rats, we have been pursuing their total demise for centuries. We have invented elaborate, gruesome traps. We have trained dogs, ferrets, and cats to kill them. We have invented ultrasonic machines to drive them away with high-pitched noise. (Those machines, still popular, do not work.) We have poisoned them in their millions. In 1930, faced with a rat infestation on Rikers Island, New York City officials flushed the area with mustard gas. In the late 1940s, scientists developed anticoagulants to treat thrombosis in humans, and some years later supertoxic versions of the drugs were developed in order to kill rats by making them bleed to death from the inside after a single dose. Cityscapes and farmlands were drenched with thousands of tons of these chemicals. During the 1970s, we used DDT. These days, rat poison is not just sown in the earth by the truckload, it is rained from helicopters that track the rats with radar – in 2011 80 metric tonnes of poison-laced bait were dumped on to Henderson Island, home to one of the last untouched coral reefs in the South Pacific. In 2010, Chicago officials went “natural”: figuring a natural predator might track and kill rats, they released 60 coyotes wearing radio collars on to the city streets. How is it that we can send robots to Mars and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies? Still, here they are. According to Bobby Corrigan, the world’s leading expert on rodent control, many of the world’s great cities remain totally overcome. “In New York – we’re losing that war in a big way,” he told me. Combat metaphors have become a central feature of rat conversation among pest control professionals. In Robert Sullivan’s 2014 book Rats, he described humanity’s relationship with the species as an “unending and brutish war”, a battle we seem always, always to lose. Why? How is it that we can send robots to Mars, build the internet, keep alive infants born so early that their skin isn’t even fully made – and yet remain unable to keep rats from threatening our food supplies, biting our babies, and appearing in our toilet bowls? frankly, rodents are the most successful species,” Loretta Mayer told me recently. “After the next holocaust, rats and Twinkies will be the only things left.” Mayer is a biologist, and she contends that the rat problem is actually a human problem, a result of our foolish choices and failures of imagination. In 2007, she co-founded SenesTech, a biotech startup that offers the promise of an armistice in a conflict that has lasted thousands of years. The concept is simple: rat birth control The rat’s primary survival skill, as a species, is its unnerving rate of reproduction. Female rats ovulate every four days, copulate dozens of times a day and remain fertile until they die. (Like humans, they have sex for pleasure as well as for procreation.) This is how you go from two to 15,000 in a single year. When poison or traps thin out a population, they mate faster until their numbers regenerate. Conversely, if you can keep them from mating, colonies collapse in weeks and do not rebound. Solving the rat problem by putting them on the pill sounds ridiculous. Until recently no pharmaceutical product existed that could make rats infertile, and even if it had, there was still the question of how it could be administered. But if such a thing were to work, the impact could be historic. Rats would die off without the need for poison, radar or coyotes. SenesTech, which is based in Flagstaff, Arizona, claims to have created a liquid that will do exactly that. In tests conducted in Indonesian rice fields, South Carolina pig farms, the suburbs of Boston and the New York City subway, the product, called ContraPest, caused a drop in rat populations of roughly 40% in 12 weeks. This autumn, for the first time, the company is making ContraPest available to commercial markets in the US and Europe. The team at SenesTech believes it could be the first meaningful advance in the fight against rats in a hundred years, and the first viable alternative to poison. Mayer was blunt about the implications: “This will change the world.” Mayer is a tall, vigorous woman in her mid-60s with bright eyes, spiky grey hair and a toothy grin. Her ideologies of choice are Buddhism and the Girl Scouts. “It’s kind of my core,” she said of the latter, “to do for others.” In conversation, her manner is so upbeat that she seems to be holding forth radiantly before an audience or on the verge of bursting into song. When asked how she is doing, she frequently responds in a near-rapture: “If I was any better, I’d be a twin!” – she also appears to enjoy watching people wonder whether this is an expression they should know. When I took a seat in her office earlier this year, she clapped her hands triumphantly and said “Ooh! You’re sitting in history and strength!” There was a pause. “I had a feng shui person come and do my office,” she explained.  by Jordan Kisner

pest control auckland rats; rat exterminator north shore
Pest control reports high surge in rat infestations in Ireland   reland's rat population has exploded. As many as 4 out of 5 jobs for Pest controllers this season are rat- Fears are growing that Ireland's rat population has exploded, as pest control experts report the number of vermin-infested households across the country has soared to unprecedented levels. Pest controllers have noted an unusual surge in the number of call-outs for rodent-infested homes over the summer months, with as many as four out of five jobs over the season being rat-related. The problem has become so widespread that in recent weeks some pest control companies ran out of specialist equipment and supplies to tackle rat infestations. Experts believe the sharp spike in vermin-related cases is due to a combination of increased building work, a rise in fly-tipping and the mild weather of last winter. Trevor Hayden, who runs nationwide company Complete Pest Control, said his team has been tackling multiple rat-infested households every single day this year, the first time this has happened. "In the past rats have generally been a problem for householders mainly in the winter months, but this year there has been no let-up at all since the start of the year, and that's something that's never happened before,” he said. "We've had rat jobs every single day of the year and over the summer months we've been getting between 15 and 20 calls a day for rats, which represents about 80 percent of our business. You'd normally expect ants and wasps to be the dominant pest in summer, but this time it's been rats that have been causing most havoc.” Hayden, who works with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use, has previously voiced his concerns about the increased size of rats, caused by rodents growing immune to conventional poison. He said he believes the spread of vermin in Irish homes has been accelerated by failed home treatments which have helped rats grow bigger and stronger, as well as building up their immunity.   Nick Bramhill

pest control north shore auckland
Black rats rainforest invasion 'speeded by deforestation' By Matt McGrath   Cutting down trees in rainforests facilitates the spread of invasive black rats, a study suggests. The rodents normally avoid mature forests with large trees as they provide little in the way of cover. But researchers, writing in Biotropica, say that logging makes rainforests more attractive for rats as fallen wood contains more insects which they eat. Scientists are concerned that the invading black rats will be bad news for native mammals. Sometimes called the ship rat, these rodents have spread around the world over the past 400 years, often causing the extinctions of native species and spreading disease. Noisy trails Much of their notoriety rests on the idea that black rats were the origin of bubonic plague, although recent research casts doubt on that notion. Black rats have usually avoided older forests as they contain large trees which do not provide much in the way of ground level protection. They also tend to have leafy forest floors which are noisy for rats to run through, as they attract predators. This new study examined the idea that logging of trees in rainforests might facilitate the spread of the rodents. The researchers looked at the island of Borneo where large tracts of the natural forest have been degraded. It had been believed that black rats were confined to urban areas in Borneo. To test the idea that they might spread into deforested regions, the scientists trapped rats from four different species - they then attached small spools of cotton thread to their backs and and tracked their movements. Across the animals in the study, the researchers found that the black rats had the strongest preference for the type of disturbed habitat associated with logging. The increased amount of fallen wood boosted the amount of insects which the rats eat. The logged forests also have more undergrowth which provides better cover. The researchers believe that black rats favour these small changes far more than related species. "Logging creates micro-environments that black rats love, helping them move in," said study co-author Dr Rob Ewers from Imperial College London. "This could be bad news for native mammals who might not be able to compete with black rats for food and resources. It's also bad for the forest, as many small mammals are important seed dispersers, helping rainforest plants to grow, and they are also prey for larger animals." The researchers say that the widespread destruction of forests throughout the tropics may well be multiplying the threat from invasive species like black rats. They believe the presence of these rats could pose a significant threat to nesting birds and other small mammals. The scientists say that the way that logging is done can have a big impact on the suitability of the land for the black rats. The more dead wood that is left behind the better the black rats like it. If felled trees were more accurately cleared as well as the vines that connect the trees, the rat's progress might be curbed.

Spread of disease from Rats mapped
Scientists say they have developed a better way to predict how animal diseases can spill over into humans. Their model for Lassa fever, which is spread by rats, predicts that there will be twice as many human cases of the disease in Africa by 2070. The method can be applied to other disease threats such as Ebola and Zika, they say. Like the Ebola virus, the Lassa virus causes haemorrhagic fever and can be fatal. Lassa fever virus currently affects between 100,000 and one million people a year in western sub-Saharan Africa. A rat found in parts of the continent can pass the virus to people. Scientists led by Prof Kate Jones of the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at UCL looked at about 400 known outbreaks of Lassa fever between 1967 and 2012. Lassa fever Lassa virus is carried by the Mastomys rat, which is found in parts of Africa. The virus is passed to people through direct contact with infected rats by catching and preparing them for food, or by food or household items contaminated with rat droppings or urine. The virus can also be transmitted through contact with body fluids of an infected person. Around 80% of people with Lassa virus have no symptoms or have symptoms that mimic other illnesses, such as malaria. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches, abdominal pains, sore throat and facial swelling.   They developed a model to calculate how often people are likely to come into contact with disease-carrying animals and the risk of the virus spilling over. It shows more areas of West Africa are at risk from Lassa fever spill-over events than previously thought. Disease outbreaks "Our model suggests that in future, it is likely to become a greater burden on local communities spreading to more areas with approximately twice as many spill-over events predicted by 2070," Dr Jones and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the Zoological Society London report in the journal, Methods in Ecolspreadogy and Evolution. The method takes into account environmental change and the way human populations are expected to grow. The projected increase in cases is largely due to climate change, with the rat that passes it to people (M. natalensis) thriving in hot and wet conditions, they say. Meanwhile, growth in human populations in certain areas will mean more people coming into contact with the rodent. "This model is a major improvement in our understanding of the spread of diseases from animals to people," explained Prof Jones.   "We hope it can be used to help communities prepare and respond to disease outbreaks, as well as to make decisions about environmental change factors that may be within their control." Investment need More than 60% of emerging infectious diseases originate in animals. As well as well-known threats such as Ebola and Zika, other diseases including Lassa fever already affect thousands of people and are expected to spread as the world warms. "Our new approach successfully predicts outbreaks of individual diseases by pairing the changes in the host's distribution as the environment changes with the mechanics of how that disease spreads from animals to people, which hasn't been done before, " said co-researcher Dr David Redding of UCL. The researchers say the model can be refined to include diseases such as Ebola and Zika. Prof Jonathan Ball of the University of Nottingham, who was not involved in the research, said if the models hold true, then future climate change and population growth will significantly increase the number of Lassa fever outbreaks - and this is likely to be true for other infectious diseases. "The threat of emerging and neglected diseases will not go away and we need to invest in research and global healthcare systems to ensure that we are ready to deal with these threats and their consequences," he said. By Helen Briggs