– Zika virus causing an infant brain damage, microcephaly, which can even lead to deaths could be a result of climate change, says experts.
According to Takepart digital news magazine, warming temperatures and extreme weather are easing conditions across the world, making more breeding grounds for the mosquitos that carry the disease.
Thus, climate change could whisper in our ear the next station of Zika virus, across the world.
World Health Organization has convened an “emergency committee” to address the “explosive” spread of the virus, where speakers urged the virus could spread to 3-4 million more people in 2016.
According to scientists, this “pandemic” is a potential for destruction, while the director of the World Health Organization warned that the virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas. Accordingly, some recent cases showed the virus has started to spread to Europe as well.
“Global travel and climate change are creating conditions perfectly designed to increase that mosquito's breeding potential and lengthen its biting season” commented health and science writer Melanie Haiken in her article.
But what is the link between climate change and Zika virus?
According to American scientist Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor University in Houston, the role of climate change is still “unclear”.
However, the issue "should be looked at very seriously” Hotez said.
“Flooding following periods of drought leads to collecting pools of water allowing mosquitoes to breed and warmer temperatures allow them to emerge less seasonally so they can be coming out and feeding all year” he added.
The virus is known to spread by the Aedes aegypti, a genre of mosquito which also carries dengue fever and yellow fever. Evidences of a link to microcephaly grow, scientists say.
According to experts, in addition to this sort of mosquitos, a second mosquito variety, the rapidly invading “Asian tiger mosquito” or Aedes albopictus, can also transmit Zika. Thus, the virus could geographically spread in a larger scope across the globe.
“We have seen these migrations before” said Hotez, referring to the 2013 outbreak of “chikungunya” virus in the Western Hemisphere.
El Nino and Zika: “An interesting coincidence”
According to Hotez, El NiÃ±o wheather patterns that is heating up temperatures in the Pacific Ocean has spread in the same period as Zika.
“It is interesting that it coincides with spread of Zika; whether they are all causally related we do not know, but it is certainly important to follow up on” Hotez noted.
The World Health Organisation Director general Margaret Chan has also confirmed during the emergency committee meeting that this year's El NiÃ±o weather patterns meant mosquito populations were “expected to spread”.
“Global warming is bringing us diseases we are unprepared for, and we just don't know all the factors involved” scientist Hotez urged.
“The question is, what else do we need to worry about?” he added.