Quantcast

Climate Crisis Could Spread Dengue Fever Through Most of Southeast U.S.

Health + Wellness
An Ae. aegypti mosquito, one of the primary vectors for the transmission of dengue fever around the world. James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control

If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise until 2080, dengue fever could spread through much of the southeastern U.S. by 2050.


That's one of the findings in a study published in Nature Microbiology Monday on the potential spread of the mosquito-borne disease, which currently kills around 10,000 people per year and sickens 100 million. The study also predicted the disease would expand to higher altitudes in central Mexico, to northern Argentina, to inland Australia, to large coastal cities in eastern China and Japan, to southern Africa and to the West African Sahel.

The study incorporated data on mosquito behavior, urbanization and different climate change scenarios to predict how dengue fever would spread in 2020, 2050 and 2080, The New York Times explained. In the most extreme climate scenario, emissions continue to rise. In another, emissions rise through 2080 and stabilize by 2100 and, in the third, they peak in 2040. In all scenarios the spread of dengue increased, but it decreased slightly between 2050 and 2080 in the lowest-emission scenario.

"This suggests that curbs in emissions and more sustainable socioeconomic growth targets offer hope of limiting the future impact of dengue," the researchers wrote.

The study was unique from previous research in that it did not only focus on how climate change would impact the spread of dengue. It also focused on urbanization. That is because dengue is a disease that thrives and spreads in cities.

"When people hear mosquito-borne disease they think about forest areas. But dengue is very much the disease of the 21st century – it happens in big cities. In big cities you have lots of people moving around very quickly," lead study author and assistant professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Oliver Brady told The Telegraph.

The study found that 2.25 billion more people would be at risk from dengue by 2080, or 60 percent of the world's population. But most of that increased risk would be driven by population growth in areas where the disease is already endemic, not by an expansion in its geographic range.

Much of its future expansion will therefore be in places that have the fewest resources to address it, such as sub-Saharan Africa, which is urbanizing quickly, Brady wrote in a "Behind the Paper" note on the article.

"Our hope is that future research on dengue and climate change can expand to include mitigation strategies for those in endemic areas, in addition to assessing the risk of spread to western nations," Brady wrote.

Dengue fever is transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes that also carry Zika and chikungunya. It is also called breakbone fever, and symptoms can include fever, joint pain and internal bleeding, according to The New York Times.

"For a healthy individual dengue is an awful experience that you never forget," Eastern Connecticut University associate professor Josh Idjadi, who caught the disease in French Polynesia, told The New York Times. "For infants and elderly and the infirm, they're the ones that are going to be at risk."

There is a vaccine, but it does not work for the majority of people.

'Taking action now by investing in trials of novel vaccines and mosquito control, curbing carbon emissions and planning for sustainable population growth and urbanization are crucial steps for reducing the impact of the virus," study author and University of Washington Health Metrics Sciences Professor Simon I. Hay recommended to The Telegraph.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Oil palm plantations in northeastern Borneo, state of Sabah, Malaysia. Recently planted oil palms can be seen in the bright green grassy areas and a tiny bit of natural rainforest still struggles for survival farther away. Vaara / E+ / Getty Images

Palm Oil importers in Europe will not be able to meet their self-imposed goal of only selling palm oil that is certified deforestation-free, according to a new analysis produced by the Palm Oil Transparency Coalition, as Bloomberg reported.

Read More Show Less
Scientists found the most melting near Mould Bay on Prince Patrick Island, NWT, Canada. University of Alaska Fairbanks Permafrost Laboratory

The Canadian Arctic is raising alarm bells for climate scientists. The permafrost there is thawing 70 years earlier than expected, a research team discovered, according to Reuters. It is the latest indication that the global climate crisis is ramping up faster than expected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pixabay

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Cherries are one of the most beloved fruits, and for good reason.

Read More Show Less
A fuel truck carries fuel into a fracking site past the warning signs Jan. 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma. J Pat Carter / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

For more than three decades, the U.S. government has mismanaged toxic oil and gas waste containing carcinogens, heavy metals and radioactive materials, according to a new Earthworks report — and with the country on track to continue drilling and fracking for fossil fuels, the advocacy group warns of growing threats to the planet and public health.

Read More Show Less
European Union blue and gold flags flying at the European Commission building in Brussels, Belgium. 35007/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Newly adopted guidelines set forth by the European Commission Tuesday aim to tackle climate change by way of the financial sector. The move comes to bolster the success of the Sustainable Action Plan published last year to reorient capital flows toward sustainable investment and manage financial risks from climate change, environmental degradation and social issues.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering remarks to supporters at a Liberal Climate Action Rally in Toronto, Ontario on March 4. Arindam Shivaani / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that his government would once again approve the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the amount of oil transported from Alberta's tar sands to the coast of British Columbia (BC).

Read More Show Less
An exhausted polar bear wanders the streets of Norilsk, a Siberian city hundreds of miles from its natural habitat. IRINA YARINSKAYA / AFP / Getty Images

An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.

Read More Show Less
Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less