WHEN MOSQUITO SEASON brought past dengue outbreaks to regions across the Asian tropics, Nepal hardly had to worry. The high-altitude Himalayan country was typically too chilly for the disease-carrying insects to live. But with climate change opening new paths for the viral disease, Nepal is now reeling from an unprecedented outbreak. At least 9,000 people have been diagnosed with dengue since August.
Dengue is carried by mosquitoes and has long been associated with warmer, low-lying tropical climates where the insects thrive. But for years, researchers have warned that dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses would spread into new regions, as climate change brings warmer temperatures and alters rainfall patterns so that cooler regions become more hospitable for mosquitoes.
“We have never had an outbreak like this before,” says Dr. Basu Dev Pandey, director of the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital. “People are afraid.”
The paragraphs above were taken from “Nepal is reeling from an unprecedented dengue outbreak” Gloria Dickie in Science News (October 7, 2019).
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Cartoon by Patrick Chappatte for the New York Times.