An Australian study on the impact of climate change on dengue fever could throw light on the mosquito-borne disease and perhaps pave the way for better control of the problem.
Researchers from the School of Public Health in the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are examining the relationship between climate change and the incidence of dengue in the northern Queensland city of Townsville and the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, combined with their rapid socio-environmental changes.
Ms Shahera Banu, a PhD student, said the research team would analyse the impact of climatic variables - rainfall, humidity and temperature - in the two cities over the last decade, plus their different socio-demographics, to shed light on the link between climate change and dengue.
Ms Banu said the research would build on existing knowledge that climate variability could influence the growth of the dengue virus and mosquito numbers, as well as people's behaviour.
"The number of mosquitoes usually increases after rainfall because they breed in containers that hold water," she said.
"Higher temperature shortens the incubation time for the virus and humid weather increases the biting activity of mosquitoes, thus increasing the chance of dengue transmission."
Ms Banu said the QUT research team would measure the variation that rainfall, humidity and temperature could cause in dengue incidence.
"We will also look at how socio-demographic changes such as population growth, housing conditions, education levels, work occupations and mosquito control activity impact on dengue transmission," she said.
"If we can do this, we can then establish a forecasting model that can be used to reduce dengue through mosquito control."
Ms Banu said her home country of Bangladesh experienced more than 1000 cases of dengue each year.
According to Queensland Health, north Queensland in the wet season of 2008-09 had 1025 locally-acquired confirmed dengue cases, the biggest epidemic in at least 50 years.