Viral Diseases to Surge in Coming Years Due to Climate Change, Report Says

Apr 15th, 2014 | By | Category: Health and Climate Change, India

Times News Network: US scientists have warned India of increased incidence of infectious and vector-borne diseases in coming years due to climate change. According to a report on climate change and infectious diseases in India authored by top scientists from Environment Safety and Health Compliance Office of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Climate and Health Program, National Centre for Environmental Health, cases of diseases like dengue and chikungunya are all set to go up.

The incidence of diarrhoeal diseases, which is responsible for one-fourth of child deaths, may rise further, states the report. “Diarrhoeal diseases are largely attributable to unsafe drinking water and lack of basic sanitation. Rapid urbanization and industrialization, population growth and inefficient water use are already causing water shortages in India. Climate change will exacerbate the lack of available fresh water as annual mean rainfall decreases in many areas,” scientists have argued in the article titled ‘Climate Change and Infectious Diseases in India: Implications for Healthcare Providers’ published in a recent issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research.

Dr C S Wattal, chairperson of the microbiology department of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, explained, “The earth is getting warmer by 0.5-0.9°C due to global warming which is resulting in an altered behaviour of disease causing organisms. We are seeing re-emergence of many diseases like leptospirosis, legionolosis and kala azar even in places like Kashmir.”

According to Dr Sandeep Budhiraja who heads the medicine department at Max Hospital, Saket, diseases like dengue have turned endemic. “It has spread to areas hitherto unaffected and incidence has increased significantly. We get patients suffering from the mosquito-borne diseases even during winter months,” he said. Earlier, dengue cases were mostly reported in rainy season but doctors say such cases are now reported throughout the year. In March, the municipal corporations in Delhi reported two cases which is unusual.

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