Climate Shifts Threaten To Increase Spread Of Malaria

Sept. 9, 2011, 1:14 p.m.

"Shifts in the world's climate and responses to those shifts, including construction of more irrigation systems, threaten to increase the spread of malaria, health experts say," AlertNet reports. "Because malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, its distribution patterns can be altered by changes in weather conditions, including changes in temperature, humidity, rainfall and the general availability of fresh water, said Suad Sulaiman, a malaria expert and health and environment adviser with the Sudanese National Academy of Sciences," according to the news agency.

"While recent spikes in malaria outbreaks in parts of Africa, particularly in highland East Africa, have been blamed on climate change, Aaron Bernstein, a pediatrician and researcher with the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, said that skepticism about the correlation between the two is warranted," adding that "the worldwide incidence of malaria has decreased despite a growing buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. And since changes in the locations that malaria outbreaks have long occurred, they cannot be linked solely to climate change," AlertNet writes. "Still, [while] climate change's exact implications for the spread of malaria remain unclear, the problem needs attention," Bernstein, who published a paper in April about the effects of climate change on children's health, told the news agency (Karlamangla, 8/19).

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