Health Concerns Relating to Climate Change

1015 words | 4 page(s)

Since the introduction of the concept of global warming in the previous century, many people have remained skeptical about its validity. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss its validity owing to the various impacts we are witnessing. It is a global phenomenon causing effects such as unpredictable and extreme weather changes, air quality shifts, ozone depletion, and food scarcity scares around the globe (Environmental Protection Agency, 2017). Of particular interest to this paper is the impact of climate change on vector-borne illnesses in the US compared to other countries, both developing and developed.

America has experienced several consequences of climate change. For example, there is a significant concern relating to the West Nile Virus. It is spread to humans through mosquitos. These vectors are sensitive to climatic conditions such as temperature, precipitation and humidity all of which to some degree are influenced by climate change (Environmental Protection Agency, 2017). For instance, variations in temperature have a proportional relationship with the distribution and abundance of mosquitos which intern results in the West Nile Virus outbreaks. Another important player is birds which act as the natural host of the virus. The onset of warmer winters directly impacts the migration patterns of birds carrying the virus. The increasing temperatures result in a higher availability of warm aquatic habitats which are suitable for mosquito breeding resulting high incidences of the virus (Environmental Protection Agency, 2017). Lastly, further changes in temperature in America will likely influence human behavior in favor of the West Nile Virus. Thus, climate change will increase the likely hood of the transmission of the virus to humans through increasing host-vector interactions.

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In other developed countries, the West Nile Virus remains a noteworthy health concern linked to global warming. However, this incidence when compared to the US it is a smaller threat. European countries are mostly located in temperate climates, for instance, France. The weather there is relatively colder compared to American hence the difference in the occurrence of the virus. However, in recent times, it has been isolated from birds, rodents, and mosquitos indicating a relevant prevalence in the country (Semenza & Menne, 2009). Using a model of entomological data and metrological data in the south of France paints a clearer picture of the on contributing factors. High prevalence of the host was linked to epidemics resulting from higher temperature levels and humidity as well as rainfall and sunshine (Semenza & Menne, 2009). In one way or the other, these can be linked to climate change. Therefore, the warming up of the temperate country is increasing the rates of outbreaks caused by the virus.

The virus is widespread in Africa which cases were reported from almost every country. In Madagascar, for instance, it has been regularly reported since the late 1970s (Maquart, 2016). All studies conducted since have concluded a high prevalence of the virus among humans throughout the island. This phenomenon can be attributed to the geographical location of the country as it is conducive for the vectors. Furthermore, there is a lot of close interaction between humans and potential vectors as opposed to America and France. For instance, there is an established relationship between settlements along lakes where domesticated birds and migratory birds interact and incidences of high seroprevalence (Maquart, 2016). Increasing temperatures and unpredictable weather patterns only serve to compound these effects. It is also worth noting that, in a country like Madagascar, for example, there is a wider animal host reservoir for virus compared to the aforementioned countries. Thus Madagascar has a relatively higher prevalence of the virus as opposed to previously mentioned countries hence it is likely to be impacted more by climate change.

A nurse can help mitigate the situation by developing health promotion strategies. Prevention is often more effective in such cases than cures because the virus is easily transmissible hence can cause an outbreak relatively easy. Since the main vector spreading it to humans is the Culex mosquito, it the particular intervention strategy should reduce this interaction (Semenza & Menne, 2009). The host-vector interactions, in this case, can be reduced by wearing long-sleeved shirts, clearing of stagnant waters and using mosquito repellants in mosquito-infested areas. These are relatively simple preventive measures that can be adopted by a large portion of the population within a short period. This health promotion campaign is designed to be efficacious, replicable and more appropriate to most of the target population (Holtz, 2017). Furthermore, it addresses the behavioral and structural requirements of a prevention intervention strategy. However, it has little biomedical perspective as it cannot address this part of the virus due to in availability of an effective vaccine at least for humans. The health promotion strategy requires a significant amount of coordination among the various policymakers involved in the control of infectious diseases and public health due to the communicable nature of the virus (Holtz, 2017). It will not be effective at all if poorly coordinated.

Indeed, global warming is slowly changing the world with the primary effect influencing vector-borne illness globally. A globally relevant pathogen spread by vectors, mosquitos, is the West Nile Virus. In the US is prevalence is considerably being influenced by climate change with increased temperatures resulting in higher incidences of outbreaks. The situation in France is significantly different due to its climatic conditions. It has a relatively lower occurrence of the virus. On the other hand, Madagascar is affected by the disease more of the three countries. Global warming affects the three countries in the same manner, in that it makes the conditions more conducive to the vectors hence increasing the number of outbreaks. Lastly, the best health promotion strategy entails an array of preventive measures designed to minimize host-vector interactions.

  • Environmental Protection Agency. (2017). Climate impacts on human health. Retrieved from https://19january2017snapshot.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-human-health_.html
  • Holtz, C. (2017). Global health care: Issues and policies (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.
  • Maquart, M. A. (2016). High Prevalence of West Nile Virus in Domestic Birds and Detection in 2 New Mosquito Species in Madagascar. Plos One, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147589
  • Semenza, J. C., & Menne, B. B. (2009). Vector-borne diseases. Retrieved from https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/climate-change/climate-change-europe/vector-borne-diseases

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