Chikungunya in Kerala due to climate change: WHO

April 7th, 2008 - 6:14 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) An outbreak of chikungunya in Kerala in the last two years is mainly due to climate change, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Monday. “Yes, climate change is one of the key factors of the chikungunya outbreak in Kerala during 2006 and 2007,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, deputy regional director (Southeast Asia) of WHO.

“Global warming is a major cause of surge in chikungunya, dengue and malaria. These vector borne diseases will intensify with climate change and more people and new areas will fall prey to it,” Singh said on the occasion of World Health Day.

In the last two years, over 100 people died, while more than 100,000 were affected by the mosquito-borne disease in the coastal state.

“There are other reasons of the spread of the disease but climate change cannot be denied as a prime reason. Due to change in climate, it becomes conducive for mosquitoes to spread to new areas and affect people,” said Jai. P. Narain, director (communicable diseases) of WHO Southeast Asia.

Chikungunya is a viral disease that spreads through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It is characterised by severe, sometimes persistent, joint pain, as well as fever and rash.

Last month, the Kerala government announced that it had drawn a special action plan to control the disease.

Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi said that the state government has sanctioned Rs.50 million to each district for preventive measures against epidemics.

Samlee Palianbangchang, regional director of WHO, said that the window period of disease transmission through mosquitoes would increase due to climate change.

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