Is climate change to blame for outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease?

Is climate change to blame for outbreaks of mosquito-borne disease?

We've previously had a few mentions of the alarming spread of some very unpleasant viral diseases, thanks to the increasing range of mosquitoes that carry these illnesses, with climate change often blamed. Cameron Webb, Clinical Lecturer and Principal Hospital Scientist at University of Sydney, Australia, explains the various factors that can be responsible for the spread of mosquito borne diseases such as Ross River, dengue, chikungunya, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis viruses and malaria. The article Includes a reference to a recent article in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, which reviews the factors contributing to future increases in mosquito-borne disease risk in the United Kingdom.

While the risk of additional illnesses from mosquitoes may be small, we can't be complacent about the risk. As the article points out "Until recently, chikungunya virus was unknown from the Americas but within a year of it being introduced into the Caribbean, it had spread to both North America and South America and is suspected to have infected over 1.2 million people.' So if you are travelling, make certain that you know whether you need to take precautions against yet another infection risk.


Photo: The warmer months have seen the appearance of these jewel spiders on webs between bushes in the scrub. It can make walking through the scrub rather challenging if I wish to avoid walking through their webs. Unfortunately they tend to form colonies, so there's a high likelihood I'll collect a few on my clothes if I'm distracted by looking for photo opportunities. Supposedly they can't bite through skin, and hopefully they keep the mosquitoes as well as the flies down.

4 Replies

  • Thanks for the information Neil.

    There are a couple on the list I hadn't heard about.

  • There are probably multiple reasons for mosquito-borne diseases spreading to areas previously devoid of the mosquito carrying the organism. One that I have always wondered about as a potential danger is air travel.

    I believe the planes used to fumigated many years ago in a bid to prevent species that did not belong in the area gaining a foot hold but that has long since stopped which would allow any stow aways to move into the local area and spread out.

    Apart from using mosquito nets as a preventative measure, I understand that they are trying to introduce sterile mosquitoes into parts of Africa to help reduce the number of malaria carrying variety that are there. I hope they are successful.

  • We feed birds in our yard. Birds eat flying insects. I would love to have a bat house just for the fun of it. And bats eat about 1200 mosquitoes an hour. Then I would be doing my part in my small little piece of the universe.

  • My brother, who loves near Los Angeles, California, ended up with West Nile Virus last year. It was a bit scary for a while. An older friend, a world famous choral conductor, Paul Salamunovich, was not so lucky. He spent an extended period of time on a ventilator and essentially unresponsive before passing away. These viruses need to be taken seriously.

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