Dengue Fever and Climate Change

Climate change is increasing the outbreak of dengue fever as well as malaria due to higher surface temperatures.

"Climate affects some of the most important diseases afflicting the world," said Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum of the World Health Organization. "The impacts may already be significant."

Dengue fever is mainly transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes, particularly A. aegypti

Situation is Worsening

Also known as breakbone fever, this virus-caused disease is very dangerous in developing countries and with temperatures rising, the situation is not getting any better.

In fact, there has been a 600% increase in dengue cases in Mexico since 2001.

"A major public health threat is coming from the vector- borne diseases that depend on temperature and on humidity," said Martin Krause, UNDP's Bangkok-based technical adviser on climate change for the Asia-Pacific region.

"Occurrences of malaria and dengue fever in communities traditionally unaffected by these diseases would place an additional strain on public health services," he said.

Dengue fever entails many severe symptoms

Mosquitoes Rise to New Heights

The mosquito-borne dengue hemorrhagic fever has spread rapidly from the tropics of South and Central America as temperatures warm and the mosquitoes extend their range northward.

Essentially, as temperatures rise, mosquitoes and other insects could climb to higher altitudes and thus will spread the disease.

In fact, many villages in third world countries have been founded at higher altitudes in order to be protected from these mosquitoes and now, they are facing the dire consequences of this disease.

For instance, in Kenya, malaria epidemics occurred in highland areas where cooler weather had previously kept down populations of disease-bearing mosquitoes.

Over two billion people are at risk of getting dengue fever

Increase in Mosquito Population

Reports have shown that even small rises in temperatures could increase the mosquito population ten-fold.

This is because as temperatures rise, the number of blood meals taken and the number of times eggs are laid increase.

The 1965 Aedes Aegypti eradication program in Miami, Florida

Severe Impacts

Moreover, as the disease spreads to new regions, it will hit people who have not grown immune to the disease and this will have serious repercussions.

The primary carrier is the mosquito Aedes aegypti which originated in Africa but now resides in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Sadly, no vaccines or drugs to date are able to combat the dengue virus.

When outbreaks of the dengue virus start in urban areas, it may affect as much as 80% of the population.

Currently, an estimated 2.5 billion people are at risk of contracting this virus but with global warming, the number will rise drastically.

Consequently, this could overwhelm public health services in many regions worldwide during epidemics.

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