Climate Change Might Help Spread Malaria

ATLANTA, March 4 (UPI) — U.S. and Dutch scientists say they’ve found climate change is increasing the spread of malaria in some countries, along with migration and land-use changes.

The researchers — Luis Fernando Chaves of Emory University in Atlanta and Constantianus Koenraadt at Wageningen University in the Netherlands — say their study was designed to resolve conflicting scientific conclusions as to of why malaria has been spreading into highland areas of East Africa, Indonesia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“We assessed … conclusions from both sides and found that evidence for a role of climate in the dynamics is robust,” they said. “However, we also argue that over-emphasizing a role for climate is misleading for setting a research agenda, even one which attempts to understand climate change impacts on emerging malaria patterns.”

Some studies link the spread of mosquitoes that carry the disease to the insects seeking warmer climates, the scientists said. But other studies found no evidence of warming in the highland regions, which would rule out climate change as a cause.

Chaves and Koenraadt re-examined more than 70 of the studies and said they found those ruling out a role for climate change often used inappropriate statistical tools, thereby casting doubt on the conclusions.

In contrast, they said they found most studies concluding climate change is playing a role in highland malaria were statistically strong,

The research appears in the current issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology.

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