A warming planet could lead to future deadly epidemics, we have been warned. But viruses and diseases are not the only things that thrive in warm climates.
Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center report that as global temperatures rise, the climate will become more suitable for mosquitos. More alarmingly, those mosquitos infected with diseases are the most likely to thrive.
During a two-prong study, researchers estimated the monthly risk of disease exposure based on rising temperatures through 2050 and 2080, specifically looking for how higher temperatures would affect two different types of the most infectious types of mosquitos.
Both the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus types of mosquitos can “carry the dengue, chikunguyna and Zika viruses, as well as at least a dozen other emerging diseases that researchers say could be a threat in the next 50 years.”
Not only can the rapid spread of infectious diseases by mosquitos expose almost all of the world’s population at some point in the next 50 years, warn researchers, but the intensity of infections will most likely be greater.
“The risk of disease transmission is a serious problem, even over the next few decades,” says researcher and biologist Colin J. Carlson, PhD. “Places like Europe, North America, and high elevations in the tropics that used to be too cold for the viruses will face new diseases like dengue.”
“Climate change is the largest and most comprehensive threat to global health security,” said Carlson “Mosquitoes are only a part of the problem, but after the Zika outbreak in Brazil in 2015, we’re especially worried about what’s to come next.”
Still, researchers warn that “we have a Herculean task ahead” when studying the spread of pathogens and how they are affected by a warming planet. “We need to figure out pathogen by pathogen, region by region when problems will emerge so that we can plan a global health response.”