DISCUSSION: Many infectious diseases thrive in warm temperatures. It is predicted that overall global temperatures will continue to increase. As climate change progresses, the risk of getting an infectious disease may increase.
Infectious diseases can be found in insects commonly known as vectors. Some diseases can be spread from Aedes, Culex, and Anopheles mosquitoes, all of which live in tropical areas. Zika virus, malaria, dengue, and West Nile virus are just some among the list of mosquito-borne diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded over 438,000 worldwide deaths in 2015 from malaria alone. As climate warms, the geographic range where these mosquitoes can survive will increase, resulting in more widespread disease.
Over time, humans may become more prone to disease because of climate change. Research by Thomas A. Burke, Ph.D., states that climate change could cause stress on agriculture causing malnutrition in humans. There are also potential changes in the human immune system due to an increased flux of ultraviolet radiation caused by climate change. Not only could climate change increase the spread of diseases, but it could make humans more susceptible to them, too.
Warming temperatures that are habitable for mosquitoes are predicted for the southern U.S. According to the New York Times, Florida is expecting deadly heat waves that flare up in the summer and rising sea levels that will eat up the shore. The heating of Florida will make it a perfect environment for mosquitoes to thrive in. This could potentially create an enormous outbreak of disease in the United States.
An increase in temperature and humidity causes mosquitoes to bite more, boosts reproduction rates, and lengthens their breeding season, says Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). PSR also states that recent studies suggest that when temperatures rise, mosquitoes that carry disease migrate to higher elevations, creating a higher risk for people.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent contraction of a mosquito-borne disease. People should equip their homes with protective barriers such as screens on windows and doors. It is a good idea to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to cover skin. Also, always wear bug spray when outside in hot and humid weather! The most long-term solution to this problem would be for humans to reduce all activities that contribute to global warming. Maybe then, mosquito-borne spread of disease will decrease.
(Credit: WHO, PSR, Thomas A. Burke, New York Times)
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©2018 Weather Forecaster Brittany Connelly