Just as snowbirds flock to warmer climes when winter settles in, wild creatures seek out weather that suits them.
Just as snowbirds flock to warmer climes when winter settles in, wild creatures seek out weather that suits them. But a changing climate is moving that comfort zone for many animals, including disease-carrying mosquitoes that kill about 1 million people a year.
Stanford biologist Erin Mordecaiand her colleagues have made startling forecasts of how climate change will alter where mosquito species are most comfortable and how quickly they spread disease, shifting the burden of disease around the world. A major takeaway: wealthy, developed countries such as the United States are not immune.
“It’s coming for you,” Mordecai said. “If the climate is becoming more optimal for transmission, it’s going to become harder and harder to do mosquito control.”
Mosquitoes and other biting insects transmit many of the most important, devastating and neglected human infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile virus. Economic development and cooler temperatures have largely kept mosquito-borne diseases out of wealthier Northern Hemisphere countries, but climate change promises to tip the scales in the other direction.
Read more at Stanford University
Image: Current worldwide distribution of the mosquito Aaedes aegypti – which can spread dengue fever, Zika virus, chikunyunga and yellow fever – by duration of time in each region. (Image credit: Sadie Ryan)