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Zika and Other Mosquito Borne Diseases’ Spreading May Turn Vigorous With Climate Changes

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(Credit: Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images) Colorized Transmission Electron Micrograph (TEM) image of Zika virus particles infecting a cell. Each particle is approximately 40 nanometers in diameter. The Zika virus is transmitted by mosquito, and is suspected to cause microcephaly and other birth defects. Original grayscale micrograph courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Cynthia Goldsmith, 2016. Zika Virus
January 31
7:22 PM 2016

Scientists presume long-term climate change may soon make protecting humans from mosquitoes much more difficult. Climate change induced inundation may increase habitat area of the mosquitoes and thus help spread mosquito borne diseases like Zika, Dengue or Yellow Fever.

Rapid rise of Zika virus infections has turned into a full fledged public health crisis. The virus, transferred via specific genre of mosquitoes, has been reported to spread explosively across Latin America, reports Discovery News quoting Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Zika infection cases have increased to around 4 million right now. The number has been counted since detection of the first case in Brazil just eight months earlier. Now the virus is active in 23 countries.

Heavy rainfall and heat are the major factors triggering spread of Zika virus. These sorts of aftermaths for climate change convert conditions more favorable to the mosquitoes that are responsible for transmitting Zika and other diseases.

Southern Brazil and Uruguay have witnessed heavy rains during this winter. Heavy rainfall has allowed to stand water on the ground and thus contributed to expand breeding habitat for mosquitoes. El Niño exerts strong influence on those regions and is believed to play vital role in increased risk of Zika virus there, reports Climate Central.

Mosquito borne illnesses may be transmitted at temperatures between 16°C (61°F) and 38°C (100°F). Average global temperature has been recorded as 15°C (59°F) in 2015 and is expected to rise by at least 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100. Thus global warming may provide mosquitoes a more favorable environment for their breeding and transmitting diseases, reports Time quoting a WHO report.

Heat has been blamed as one of the most important factors driving the recent Zika virus outbreak. The entire Latin America has been reported to suffer from hot temperatures since early last year.

The recorded temperatures have been acknowledged as the warmest on record across the globe. Warmer temperatures not only help the mosquitoes to incubate the virus but also force the people to remain in outside more. Thus their skins become exposed more for the mosquitoes to feast on.

Relative high humidity may also induce some mosquito borne diseases. However, humidity induction on mosquito borne diseases hasn't been accounted properly in most climate models till date.

Recently, scientists' predictions on spreading of Zika and other mosquito borne diseases have added to peoples' woes. Climate change, one of the major concerns for recent days, may increase Zika spreading. Spreading of Zika across Latin America has attracted scientists' to reveal that higher temperatures and heavy rainfall are among the major factors influencing spread of the Zika infections in that region.

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