Climate Change to Widen Range of Disease-Carrying Mosquitoes
Infectious diseases, such as dengue and the Zika virus, could spread to new parts of the world as mosquitoes expand their habitats in a warmer, wetter world, a new study suggests.
By 2061-80, an additional half a billion people could be at risk from diseases carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the study says – and could even rise to more than five billion under a scenario of high population growth.
Estimates suggest 390 million people a year are infected with dengue and the recent outbreak of the Zika virus in South America has largely been driven by Aedes aegypti.
Currently, approximately 63% of the world’s population live in areas where Aedes aegypti are found. The range of these mosquitoes is largely limited by climate – they like the hot, wet conditions of the tropics and subtropics.
However, a new study, published this week in the journal Climatic Change, suggests their habitat could expand as the climate warms – putting millions more people at risk from the viruses they carry.