How climate change affects insect borne diseases
Insect borne diseases are spread by disease-carrying insects (vectors) which transmit microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses (pathogens) to their hosts. Some of the world’s deadliest and most harmful insect borne diseases are Malaria, Dengue, West Nile virus, and the Zika virus. The mosquito is by far the most dangerous vector, but other insects and arthropods like fleas, ticks, flies and more carry diseases too. Insect repellent and insect repellent clothing is the best defense against these diseases by preventing bites from happening.
Disease-carrying vectors love warmer, wetter conditions
As the world warms, those in the scientific world concur that climate change will definitely have an effect on insect borne diseases, yet what that effect will be is yet to be determined. Experts speculate that warmer, more humid and wet environments may increase the reproduction of vectors and their life expectancies, which would most certainly be reflected in an escalation of transmission of diseases.
Global warming is argued to be the potential catalyst for vectors to spread deadly pathogens to areas that previously would have provided unsuitable conditions for this to occur. For instance, more typically dry areas experiencing increased rainfall can create stagnant water pools, which are breeding ground for mosquitoes. Another example is that warmer, more humid weather helps mosquitoes that carry Malaria digest blood faster, thereby needing more hosts to feed on than usual.
Insect repellent: The prime barrier against insect borne diseases
There are many initiatives that can be instituted to help stop the spread of insect borne diseases due to the damaging effects of climate change. The first one is, obviously, is for world leaders to diminish global warming. Investing in technology that will provide better systems to monitor and predict outbreaks is also important. Also, improved healthcare and field diagnosis in those areas most prone to insect borne diseases is critical to slowing the spread – especially in the early stages of a pandemic.
Probably the most effective prevention in the case of mosquito (or other vector) transmitted diseases, is stopping bites. Insect repellent and insect repellent clothing can provide necessary Zika protection, Dengue protection, and Malaria protection to counter the effects of climate change, but how successful will world leaders and health organizations be in educating everyone, and also providing these resources to the world’s rural poor who are often most severely affected?
Perhaps only time will tell.