Americas: Warming linked to the spread of Zika virus
The Zika virus, transmitted by the same mosquito as dengue fever, has spread with alarming speed throughout South and Central America – and scientists in Brazil suspect that global warming is exacerbating the problem, reports Acclimatise.
Although the virus, named after the Ugandan forest where it was first identified, usually causes only mild symptoms and often passes undetected, it has been associated with a surge in the number of cases of babies born with microcephaly, which can cause brain damage. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared the situation an international public health emergency.
Paolo Zanotto, a virologist at the University of São Paulo’s Biomedical Sciences Institute, is co-ordinating a network of laboratories studying the Zika virus. He says: “The number of mosquitoes is increasing, their area of activity is increasing, and contact with populations who have never before had contact with dengue is increasing. Global warming is probably collaborating with its spread to previously free areas.”