Malaria Reaching Higher Altitudes

Rising temperatures open up new heights to parasite

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 7, 2014 4:10 AM CST

(Newser) – Efforts to eradicate malaria are going to be hit hard by rising temperatures that open up new altitudes to the mosquitoes that carry the disease, researchers warn. Both mosquitoes and the malaria parasite struggle in chillier temperatures, and a new study has found that the disease climbs to higher elevations in warmer years, the BBC reports. In areas like the highlands of Colombia and Ethiopia, people have never been exposed to malaria, making them especially vulnerable to the spread of the disease.

"We have estimated that, based on the distribution of malaria with altitude, a 1C rise in temperature could lead to an additional three million cases in under-15-year-olds per year," one of the researchers warns. Malaria infects more than 200 million people per year and kills around 600,000 of them, mainly children in Africa. But climate isn't the only factor at work in its spread, with the biggest advances in malaria control coming alongside efforts to combat poverty, Time notes.

Mosquitoes are seen inside a stock cage in a mosquito labaratory at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
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Our findings ... underscore the size of the problem and emphasize the need for sustained intervention efforts in these regions, especially in Africa. - Mercedes Pascual, a disease ecologist at the University of Michigan

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