LONDON, May 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than three million cases of dengue fever, the fastest growing tropical disease in the world, could be prevented annually if global warming is limited to 1.5C, he said. a study that claims to be the first to show the health benefits of a cooler planet.
Viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes causes flu-like symptoms and can be fatal if it develops in severe hemorrhagic form. The annual number of cases has multiplied by 30 in the last 50 years, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Using computer models, researchers at the University of East Anglia in Great Britain discovered that limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) could reduce annual cases of dengue in Latin America and the Caribbean by up to 2.8 million for end of the century.
More than half a million cases could be prevented if the increase in global temperatures remains at 1.5 ° C, according to the report, and it is likely that parts of South America will benefit.
"There is growing concern about the potential impacts of climate change on human health," said lead author Felipe Colón-González.
"This is the first study that shows that reductions in the 2C to 1.5C warming could have important health benefits."
Since 2000, climate change has caused severe damage to human health by feeding more heat waves, the spread of some mosquito-borne diseases and malnutrition as crops fail, according to a Lancet report last October.
The current national promises to stop emissions put the world on the way to a warming of around 3ºC above pre-industrial times, well above the "far below" 2C target set at the 2015 summit in Paris.
The WHO has previously estimated that there could be 250,000 additional deaths per year between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change.
"Understanding and quantifying the impacts of warming on human health is crucial to public health preparedness and response," co-author Iain Lake said in a statement.
"Clearly much more needs to be done to reduce (carbon dioxide) and quickly if we want to avoid these impacts," he said.
Dengue infects around 390 million people worldwide each year, with an estimated 54 million cases in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ( PNAS).
There is no cure for dengue and medical experts recommend early detection and expert care as the most effective way to overcome an infection.
Reports by Lin Taylor @linnytayls, Edition by Claire Cozens.
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