Climate change impacting rates of dengue and malaria

The World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organization yesterday released a report detailing how climate change impacts global health, specifying in particular how vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria are increasing as temperatures warm.

Author Anna Rees, 10.30.12

The report outlined that over the last 25 years, global warming has sped up, with temperatures climbing more than 0.18 degree Celsius per decade. Incidence rates of major, climate-sensitive diseases such as diarrhoeal diseases, malnutrition, malaria and dengue are expected to heighten as trigger events, such as extreme weather and natural disasters, increase (occurrences of weather-related natural disasters have more than tripled over the last 50 years).

The gradual rise in overall temperature has a direct effect on the reproduction rate of dengue mosquitoes as well as their likelihood to bite. According to WHO, climate change could result in an extra 2 billion dengue transmissions by 2080 while the report predicts that climate change will result in 2 to 4 billion USD of direct damage costs to global health by 2030.

WHO and WMO also released a new mapping tool to demonstrate which health risks exist where and how they link to climate change. The so-called Atlas of health and climate is designed to assist authorities in preventing the spread of climate-related diseases.

Official figures surrounding dengue have been difficult to determine, and can vary greatly. Generally, it is estimated that dengue infects 50 million people per year and causes 15,000 deaths in 100 countries. Check WHO’s dedicated webpages for further information on dengue and malaria.

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