Do you believe that global warming will increase dengue fever risks?
As our climate changes, the risk of injury, illness, and death from heat waves, wildfires, intense storms, and flood rises. If high temperatures are combined with high relative humidity and if it persists for several days, then it can be a real killer. Higher temperatures are also most influenced by human behaviour. We should emit fewer heat-trapping waves into the atmosphere and try to keep our planet cooler. Changes are projected in temperature and precipitation under global warming are likely to threaten human health and safety. Global warming atmosphere also holds more moisture, hence the chance of extreme rainfall and flooding will continue to rise in some regions of India.
GLOBAL WARMING = POOR AIR QUALITY
Global warming also leads to poor air quality. The rise in air temperatures increases smog if sunlight, pollution, and air currents are consistent. This will also cause epidemics in various parts of the world. Warmer oceans and other surface waters may also mean severe cholera outbreaks and harmful bacteria in certain types of seafood. The ability of public health systems to respond to the risk of vector-borne diseases is particularly difficult. People residing in floodplains are more likely to see the river or coastal flooding. Similarly, people who reside in regions with poor air quality today are at greater risk from poor air quality days in the future. Young children, the elderly, and those who are already ill are less able to withstand high temperatures and poor air quality. Temperature extremes and smog hit people with heart and respiratory diseases.
OVER 200 MILLION ARE AFFECTED WITH DENGUE FEVER EVERY YEAR
Dengue is world’s most relevant mosquito-bourne disease with more than 200 million people each year becoming infected. A mechanistic virus transmission model is used to determine whether climate warming would change dengue transmission. Two climate models are used with two carbon emission scenarios, we calculated future dengue epidemic potential for the period 2046–2064. It is said that the dengue epidemic potential may decrease under climate warming due to mosquito breeding sites becoming drier and mosquito survivorship declining. These results contradict most previous studies that use correlative models to show increased dengue transmission under climate warming. Dengue epidemiology is also determined by a complex interplay between climatic, human host, and pathogen factors.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Researchers predict that the transmission of dengue could decrease in a future warmer climate. This prediction counters the previous projections that climate change would cause the potentially lethal virus to spread more easily. There is a significant concern in countries on the margin of the tropical areas where dengue is mainly found, that with global warming dengue and other mosquito-borne viruses such as Zika will encroach and become common place.
THE SITUATION IN INDIA
Millions of people are infected with dengue each year in India, with children dying in severe cases, and this research helps to address this significant health problem. The predictions have suggested that climate change will increase transmission of mosquito-borne diseases globally.
Dengue risk increases in wet tropics as this is favourable for survival of dengue mosquitos. While climate change generally poses a major threat to humanity, it also might increase the incidence of dengue in some areas. The disease is widespread everywhere in the world where outcomes would be very different in the future.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Decreased dengue transmission was predicted under the A2 carbon emission scenario by using ECHAM5 model, whereas there is a possibility that it can be increased under the B1 scenario. It is, therefore, naive to assume a simple relationship between climate and incidence, and incorrect to state that climate warming will uniformly increase dengue transmission, although in general, the health impacts of climate change will be negative. Planned investments in infrastructure and public health strategies can help communities become more resilient in a warming world. However, the costs of coping with health risks linked to severe climate change are often higher than the costs of curbing heat-trapping emissions.