LONDON – Future global warming could lead to a significant increase in malaria cases in densely populated regions of Africa and South America unless disease monitoring and control efforts are increased, researchers say.
In a study of the mosquito-borne disease that infects around 220 million people a year, researchers from Britain and the United States found what they describe as the first hard evidence that malaria creeps to higher elevations during warmer years and back down to lower altitudes when temperatures cool.
This in turn “suggests that with progressive global warming, malaria will creep up the mountains and spread to new high-altitude areas,” said Menno Bouma, an honorary clinical lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
And because people who live in these areas have no protective immunity because they are not used to being exposed to malaria, they will be particularly vulnerable to more severe and fatal cases of infection, he added.
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