Climate Change and Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Today, I happen to chat with a former student attending to a cousin who is presently in the hospital battling with dengue which made me decide on writing something about mosquito-borne diseases.
THE GLOBAL RESIDENTS
Mosquitoes, as we all know, are global residents especially of humid tropics and sub-tropics. There are about 3,500 species of mosquitoes, three-fourth of which are natives of tropical countries like ours. Its largest population thrives in the Arctic during summer and after snowmelt.
Their lives and behaviour, and the transmission of diseases are strongly influenced by climatic factors. Rainfall, humidity and temperature, the wind and duration of daylight are crucial factors in their survival and in the transmission rate of mosquito-borne pathogens. Low humidity keeps them sheltered. Heavy rainfall flashes them out. Drought pushes them to thrive in water receptacles. High temperature affects their rate of multiplication and likelihood of increased transmission. The interplay of these factors determines the total climatic effect on the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
NON CLIMATIC FACTORS
Non climatic factors such as human activities also affect transmission of diseases. The denudation of our forests via kaingin system gives favorable conditions to anopheles mosquitoes to transmit malaria. Irrigation and construction of dams and fishponds create ideal mass production of mosquitoes. Idle storage jars and drums, discarded rubber tires and other containers can play host to aegypti which spreads yellow fever and dengue. The movement of working infected people and urbanization promote widespread risk of transmission. Human culture and behaviour cause the increase and transmission of diseases.
THE RIGHT PRICE?
In the recent years, solutions for their elimination have scarcely prevented them from mass production and have introduced increased greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by using insecticides and other chemicals. Improved drainage, farm and construction methodologies can help eliminate their breeding grounds effectively. Installation of air-conditioning units may help prevent the spread of diseases because it will reduce contact of mosquitoes with human beings but may mean increased electric consumption.
WANTED SOUND ACTION
As it is now, mosquito-borne diseases are complex. Its interplay with many other factors defies simplistic analysis but it is easy to attribute this to climate change. This calls a major cause of concern that springs from improved and changed human culture and behaviour to massively control and eradicate not just diseases but prevent the continuous denudation of our forests and destruction of ozone layer and human lives regardless of future climate change.