As the climate heats up, mosquitoes have more time to live and breed and expand their habitat, especially northward. So, we are beginning to see mosquito-carried diseases, such as malaria, in different parts of the world. Until recently, malaria has been most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and to a lesser extent in other equatorial and near-equatorial parts of the world. But global heating is now drawing them farther and farther from the equator.
Malaria is carried by mosquitoes due to a parasite that infects them after they feed off of malaria- infected prey. Humans can then get malaria when a malaria-infected mosquito feeds off of them. Malaria can quickly cause severe illness and even death.
By 2070 an extra 4.7 billion people might be at risk of malaria in addition to the 250 million people who are already infected with malaria each year. Already, the malaria death count each year is 620,000 people. As climate change worsens and more areas of the world are warmer for longer periods each year, more people are going to be at risk of catching the disease and dying.
There have already been reported malaria cases in the U.S. and Europe. This is the first time in 20 years that malaria has been reported in the U.S.
When diseases spread to new regions like this, they are putting new populations whose immune systems have not yet evolved to resist the infection at risk. Likewise, the healthcare systems in these regions are not prepared to deal with the new disease.
As the global heating continues, malaria is far from the only threat that life on Earth will have to overcome. But it’s appearance in the U.S. is one more warning. The big oil companies and other profiteers have set us on this path. We can’t rely on them and their politician hand-puppets to take the actions necessary to protect us from malaria and other climate threats.