Health: Warmer weather brings threat of malaria and cholera to Britain
Global warming could bring olive trees to southern Britain as the world's climate changes more rapidly in the next 100 years than in the previous 10,000. But the rise in temperature could also lead to outbreaks of tropical diseases such as cholera and malaria. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, anticipates the hidden dangers of warmer days.
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Friday 26 September 1997
Malaria, cholera, tick-borne fevers and respiratory illnesses are all expected to grow as a result of the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases in the atmosphere which is believed to be causing global warming.
While warmer temperatures may be welcomed by wine producers and olive growers hoping to extend their operations to northern Europe, the spread of diseases could bring misery to many.
Specialists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine have estimated the likely health effects of the 1-3.5 degrees centigrade rise in global temperatures forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations scientific body set up to advise governments worldwide.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professors Tony McMichael and Andrew Haines say storms, floods and heatwaves are likely to increase. Air pollution is likely to worsen, especially summer smogs which are sensitive to a variation in temperatures.
Diseases likely to become more common in Europe include malaria, which was widespread in Britain until improved public health measures eliminated it in the early part of this century. Viral encephalitis, a swelling of the brain spread by ticks, and Lyme disease, also spread by ticks and causing arthritis and skin rashes, are expected to grow. Leishmaniasis, a disease affecting the liver and spleen and causing fever and death if untreated, which is found in the eastern Mediterranean, is also predicted to spread northwards. It is carried by the sandfly.
Professor McMichael said yesterday that cases of local transmission of malaria in New York and Europe had increased in the last decade. "It is difficult to say whether the malarial mosquito will come over the horizon in Britain. What we can say is that climate change will make it easier for this disease to spread."
Cholera broke out in Peru, South America, in 1991 for the first time for 100 years. US scientists believe warming of the coastal waters and increased dumping of phosphate and nitrate wastes stimulated the growth of algae which acted as a natural host for the cholera bacteria.
Professor McMichael said the same algae were common in the Mediterranean. "If there were sufficient shifts in the temperature of coastal waters in Britain it could be a problem here too," he said. Individuals and society had to tackle the problem of global warming by reducing production of carbon dioxide, he warned.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...
£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 4 Teacher - NestonRandsta...