US scientists have made a prediction about the future spread of dengue fever in the US, in relation to the changing climate.
Researchers based at the Texas Tech University have examined the spread of dengue fever in the US and have assessed the impact of the spread of the mosquito carried disease in relation to climate change.
At present, the disease occurs mainly in Mexico. However, cases have been documented in South Texas and Florida.
Dengue fever is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash. In some cases the disease can develop into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue is transmitted by several species of mosquito.
According to the University's research brief, various studies have indicated how climate change is likely to alter the geographic range of the mosquitoes, as a warmer climate means that mosquitoes will move further northwards up from the southern states in the US.
The Texas Tech researchers have added to this predictive model by stating that southern outbreaks of dengue fever are likely to decrease in size and will become more common in the spring and fall; whereas, northern areas will probably see larger outbreaks throughout the summer months. As the researchers state:
"Shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns caused by global climate change may have profound impacts on the ecology of certain infectious diseases."
The findings of the research have been published in Environmental Research Letters. The reference for the paper is:
R A Erickson, K Hayhoe, S M Presley, L J S Allen, K R Long, S B Cox. Potential impacts of climate change on the ecology of dengue and its mosquito vector the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Environmental Research Letters, 2012; 7 (3)