Climate change contributes to the spread of dengue fever

Dengue fever and other diseases caused by mosquito-borne viruses are spreading faster and more broadly due to climate change, said the World Health Organization (Who), expressing fear of an outbreak of the disease in the world.

World Health Organization experts sounded the alarm about the rise in dengue and chikungunya infections and warned of another expected global spread of the Zika virus.

These three diseases are spread by arthropod-borne viruses, which are transmitted to humans through mosquitoes of the genus Aedes, called tiger mosquitoes.

“Climate change has played a major role in facilitating the spread of mosquito vectors,” said Raman Velayudhan, coordinator of the WHO’s Dengue and Virus Initiative.

Dengue remains endemic in 100 countries and poses a threat to 29 others.

Velayudhan said the number of cases has skyrocketed in recent years, from about half a million in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2019, the worst year on record.

Even though, cases were improperly reported during the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers remained high.

Meanwhile, infections of chikungunya, which have so far been reported in 115 countries since its discovery in the 1950s, are on the rise in the Americas, Rojas-Alvarez said. Since January, about 135,000 cases have been reported in this region, compared to 50,000 in the first half of 2022.

Perhaps the most worrisome part is the geographical expansion of these two diseases, from the Americas in the south to the northern hemisphere, including some European countries.

“Mosquitoes have multiplied with climate change, causing these diseases to spread more over latitude and longitude,” Rojas Alvarez said, describing the situation as “alarming.”

Both diseases usually cause mild symptoms, such as fever, body aches and rashes. Most people with chikungunya only feel symptoms for a week, but 40% feel the effects for months or even years, and Alvarez cautioned that chikungunya can lead to permanent disability.

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