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The heat is on: Warm up time for Malaria’s climb

by Medindia Content Team on March 22, 2006 at 3:55 PM
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The heat is on: Warm up time for Malaria’s climb

There is a thought doing the rounds that global warming in the East African highlands could have instigated a rebound of Malaria. A novel research by an international team places a certain importance to climatic change which can raise malaria's spread, along with other factors like drug and pesticide resistance, changing land use patterns and human migration. University of Michigan theoretical ecologist Mercedes Pascual, has contributed his mite to the team. The new study is slated to be published this week in the Online Edition of the National Academy of Sciences

Though malaria has been completely obliterated in several parts of the world, still many hundreds or millions of people world over get affected due to it. Infact, the highland regions and deserts are showing a greater propensity for malaria attacks. Scientists believe that the very microorganisms that cause malaria are fuelled into action by climatic changes, with rising temperatures being extremely conducive for its proliferation. This is perhaps the leading cause of its rise in warm climes.

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A 2002 study did not prove conclusive in establishing the malaria-climatic connection, but Pascual did a further check with updated temperature data and honed testing techniques. Pascual said, "I did find evidence for an increase in temperature, which the authors of the previous paper said was not there.We showed that a small increase in temperature can lead to a much larger increase in the abundance of mosquitoes. And because mosquito abundance is generally quite low in these highland regions, any increase in abundance can be an important factor in transmission of the disease."

Pascual collaborated on the research with Jorge Ahumada of the University of Hawaii, U-M graduate student Luis Chaves, Xavier Rodo of the University of Barcelona and Menno Bouma of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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