Just in time for the summer mosquito season, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a report last week detailing the latest climate-based threat to human health.
The two mosquito species capable of carrying dengue fever are rapidly spreading across the southern United States, increasing the incidence of the disease. We already knew that “Climate change is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” – now, it seems, we’re reaching the point where “threat” turns into “harsh reality.”
The report tells it straight:
Global warming threatens to further exacerbate the spread of many infectious diseases because increases in heat, precipitation, and humidity can foster better conditions for tropical and subtropical insects to survive and thrive in places previously inhospitable to those diseases.
And, as the NRDC discusses in its report, dengue fever is top among those diseases. Also known as “breakbone,” dengue causes “fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain, and rash.” The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that, “if unrecognized and not properly treated,” dengue can develop into dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and possibly kill its host. Unpleasant, right?
Once considered exclusive to the tropics, dengue has experienced a 30-fold increase in incidence rates during the last 50 years and has since spread to more temperate climates, now including huge swaths of the United States.