One of the main concerns voiced about global warming is that the delicate balance between diseases, their vectors, and humans might be upset as tropical climates that are so hospitable to spawning and spreading diseases move poleward. The spread of infectious diseases is controlled by the range of their vectors— mosquitoes and other insects. Increases in temperatures mean increases in the activity and ranges of these vectors.
Data on recent trends support this observation. An increase of one degree Celsius in the average temperature in Rwanda in 1987 was accompanied by a 337% rise in the incidence of malaria that year as mosquitoes moved into mountainous areas they had not previously inhabited. Also, Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever, has extended its range high into the mountain areas of such diverse areas as Colombia, India, and Kenya. Although global warming is expected to deliver its most deadly punch in the tropical areas of the world, where over 500-million people are affected (and 2.7 million die), the United States is not immune. A computer model by a Dutch public health team proposed that an average global temperature increase of 3°C in the next century could result in 50 to 80 million new cases of malaria each year. In the United States, public health facilities are likely to keep new incidences of disease in humans to a minimum, because of vaccinations. But disease outbreak in wildlife, which is not vaccinated, could be more severe.
See Also the Following Articles
Aquatic Habitats • Growth, Individual • Malaria • Pollution • Temperature, Effects on Development and Growth
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