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article imageCould climate change bring malaria to the UK?

By Tim Sandle     May 5, 2013 in Environment
Epidemiologists are calling on the government to take action against the growing threat that mosquito-borne diseases, including potentially fatal malaria, could soon arrive in the UK.
According to the Guardian, health experts at this week's meeting of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health will be warning the U.K. government that diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, now present on the European continent, could one day be common in the U.K.
Malaria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, is caused by a single-celled parasite belonging to genus Plasmodium, is transmitted, by mosquitoes, in areas in over one hundred countries risking about 3.3 billion people. Mosquitoes spread the parasite to humans through their bites; the parasite then travels to the liver, where it matures and reproduces in forms that infect the red cells and cause clinical symptoms
The climate change warning is based on predicted changes to climate. This concern has led to research being undertaken on marshes in the South of England, according to Climex.
Julie Barratt, director of the CIEH, is quoted as saying: "With predicted changes to climate in the UK, characterized by warming and wetter summers providing perfect breeding grounds for a number of pest-borne diseases, we need to consider some robust public health measures to minimize the potential outbreaks...Modern living conditions, urban sprawl and emerging changes in climate make the spread of pests and pest-borne diseases increasingly likely."
The view that climate change could trigger an increase in disease carrying mosquitoes is not supported by all scientists, according to a 2010 study reported on by the BBC. Much of the debate, on either side, is, at present, based on reports of mosquitoes and mathematical modeling.
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