This post is almost an UPDATE on yesterday’s,
Whereas yesterday the topic was viruses, today’s is malaria and the effects of global warming.
Malaria ‘spreading to new altitudes’
Warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread to higher altitudes, a study suggests.
Researchers have found that people living in the highlands of Africa and South America are at an increased risk of catching the mosquito-borne disease during hotter years.
They believe that temperature rises in the future could result in millions of additional cases in some areas.
The research is published in the journal Science.
Prof Mercedes Pascual, from the University of Michigan in the US, who carried out the research, said: “The impact in terms of increasing the risk of exposure to disease is very large.”
Vulnerable to disease
Areas at higher altitudes have traditionally provided a haven from this devastating disease.
Both the malaria parasite and the mosquito that carries it struggle to cope with the cooler air.
Prof Pascual said: “The risk of the disease decreases with altitude and this is why historically people have settled in these higher regions.”
But the scientists say the disease is entering new regions that had previously been malaria-free.
To investigate, scientists looked at densely populated areas in the highlands of Colombia and Ethiopia, where there are detailed records of both temperature and malaria cases from the 1990s to 2005.
They found that in warmer years, malaria shifted higher into the mountains, while in cooler years it was limited to lower elevations.
Once again, we see the effects of global warming in yet another area.
It doesn’t matter if the global warming is man-made, or a natural phenomena, it is happening.
The danger is that not only is the mosquito gaining ground in altitude, but it is able to spread further north and south and that begins to eventually put all of the civilised world within its reach.
Global warming, whatever the cause, cannot be ignored.