Mosquito Bytes

 

1. Mosquito alert
2. Whining in your ear
3. Malaria
4. Illnesses expand (Dengue)
5. Death to mosquitoes
6. Climate change=more disease?
7. Advice for the weary (repellent pictured)
8.Stop already! (Q & A)

 

Warmer = buggier?
Climat change=More disease?The prospect that the globe will warm up due to increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere sends chills up the spine of specialists in mosquito-borne diseases. Greenhouse gases -- mainly carbon dioxide -- reflect heat back to Earth that would otherwise be lost to space.

The greenhouse effect -- the warming caused by this reflection -- made the planet inhabitable in the first place. But the carbon dioxide concentration is rising steadily each year, largely due to burning fossil fuels and to a lesser extent land changes like tree removal.

Within the last year, an international group of scientists warned that the warming seems to have begun. The average warming is predicted to range from 1 degree to 3.5 degree C by year 2100.

bands of red across the middle of the world, fading out to blue in horizontal bands at either pole
Energy trapped in the atmosphere by the greenhouse effect. Courtesy Learning Through Collaborative Visualization Project, funded by National Science Foundation.

What's that got to do with our favorite bloodsucker?
Simply this: The existence and activity of mosquitoes and mosquito-borne diseases is strongly linked to temperature. In Zimbabwe, for example, the prevalence of malaria is determined by altitude, which in turn determines temperature.

But global warming may not just cause mosquitoes to proliferate; it may also allow malaria to spread. The malaria parasites cannot develop below the 16 degree C winter isotherm (line on a map connecting points with the same temperature). But if, as predicted, global warming raises winter temperatures more than summer ones, we could see a dramatic expansion of range for malaria.

The effect of global warming on dengue is no more encouraging, according to a recent journal article: "Slightly higher temperatures within the range of mosquito viability lead to more infectious mosquitoes that bite more frequently" (see Global Climate Change).

How can I protect myself from little whiners?

 

 

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