Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness, has been on the rise globally, affecting millions of people each year. Surprisingly, one of the key factors contributing to its spread is climate change.
Let’s find out more about this:
Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. There are four serotypes of the virus, and infection can result in a range of symptoms, from mild fever to severe and potentially life-threatening conditions like dengue haemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome.
The Aedes mosquito, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are the main vectors responsible for transmitting the dengue virus. These mosquitoes live in warm and humid climates. Here’s where climate change comes into play.
As global temperatures increase due to climate change, more areas become conducive to the survival and reproduction of Aedes mosquitoes. Warmer temperatures create favorable breeding conditions, allowing mosquitoes to multiply rapidly.
With warmer temperatures for longer periods, the mosquito seasons have extended in many regions. In places where it was once too cold for mosquitoes to survive, the warming climate now provides a more welcoming environment for them to breed and spread diseases like dengue.
Climate change also affects rainfall patterns. Increased rainfall can create breeding grounds for mosquitoes, as they lay their eggs in standing water. On the other hand, droughts can lead to water storage practices, such as containers around homes, providing ideal habitats for mosquito breeding.
Urbanization, often linked with climate change, contributes to the dengue problem. Urban areas with heat-absorbing surfaces, like concrete, experience higher temperatures, creating urban heat islands. These warmer conditions favor mosquito survival and, lead to the spread of dengue.
The changing climate directly influences the distribution of Aedes mosquitoes, impacting the transmission dynamics of dengue fever. Regions that were once considered low-risk for dengue are now witnessing outbreaks due to the different sorts of climate conditions.
Aedes mosquitoes are expanding their geographical range. Countries and regions that were previously unaffected or had sporadic dengue cases are now experiencing more frequent and intense outbreaks.
Warmer temperatures and altered rainfall patterns contribute to an increased incidence of dengue cases. Moreover, the intensity of outbreaks is amplified, posing a greater health risk to populations.
Communities that were historically less exposed to dengue are often less prepared to deal with outbreaks. The changing climate brings this disease to new areas, making populations more vulnerable due to a lack of immunity and insufficient public health infrastructure.
Using vector control programs to manage mosquito populations is vital. This includes using insecticides, cleaning breeding sites, and looking for the right techniques to reduce mosquito exposure.
Establishing surveillance systems to monitor mosquito populations and track disease ensures that there isan early detection and rapid response to potential outbreaks.
Educating communities about dengue prevention measures, such as using mosquito nets, wearing protective clothing, and removing standing water around homes, is essential.
Climate change is one of those factors that you cannot forget when it comes to the spread of dengue fever. Therefore,we must find out the root cause of the disease and find ways to minimize it.