Presence of ‘airport’ malaria alarms US authorities

November 12th, 2008 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 12 (IANS) Global warming is suspected to be exporting malaria to areas like the US and Europe that were so far untouched.’Airport’ malaria is transmitted when a mosquito infected with the disease bites a human within a kilometre of an international airport.

“As international travel increases and climate patterns change… the US becomes a more stable ecosystem for these disease carrying insects to survive and flourish for longer periods of time,” said James H. Diaz, programme director for Environmental and Occupational Health at Louisiana State University.

Diaz explained that warm, dry summers followed by heavy rain causes mosquitoes to rush breeding and seek out more blood meals, which in turn creates more mosquitoes in a shorter period of time.

Warmer climate changes in major US cities with a large presence of international air traffic, such as New York and Los Angeles, seem to have created a more welcoming environment where these infected mosquitoes can survive.

It begins with a mosquito that is transported during an international flight from a malaria-endemic region. Once the infected female mosquito leaves the aircraft, it can survive long enough to seek blood meals and transmit the disease to other humans within the airport.

This type of international transmission creates an increased possibility for the reintroduction of not just malaria, but other detrimental diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya fever.

For example, people infected with malaria can travel anywhere in the world in 24 hours or less and as long as the malaria-transmitting mosquitoes are present, countries can face larger local outbreaks of imported malaria, according to a release of American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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