Friday, March 7, 2014

Climate change could mean more malaria in Africa

The Guardian (UK) via Reuters: Future global warming could lead to a significant increase in malaria cases in densely populated regions of Africa and South America unless disease monitoring and control efforts are increased, researchers said on Thursday.

In a study of the mosquito-borne disease that infects around 220 million people a year, researchers from Britain and the United States found what they describe as the first hard evidence that malaria creeps to higher elevations during warmer years and back down to lower altitudes when temperatures cool.

This in turn “suggests that with progressive global warming, malaria will creep up the mountains and spread to new high-altitude areas,” said Menno Bouma, an honorary clinical lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

And because people who live in these areas have no protective immunity because they are not used to being exposed to malaria, they will be particularly vulnerable to more severe and fatal cases of infection, he added. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) data, malaria infected around 219 million people in 2010, killing around 660,000 of them - the vast majority in sub-Saharan Africa.

But robust figures are hard to establish for a disease that affects mainly poor communities in rural areas of developing countries, and some global health experts say the annual malaria death toll could be double that....

Trapped mosquitoes at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, shot by a US Defense Department employee

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