Mosquito-borne viruses 'will go up with rising temperatures'

A municipal health worker carries out fumigation on a street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan 30, 2016.
A municipal health worker carries out fumigation on a street in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan 30, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS • Rising temperatures will lead to increases in mosquito-borne viruses such as the Zika virus, United Nations assistant secretary-general on climate change Janos Pasztor said.

"Clearly (the) Zika virus is linked to temperature... If the temperatures go up, there will be more of the kind of mosquito that carries the virus and there will be more infections," Mr Pasztor said on Friday.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted that a causal relationship between the virus and a rise in birth malformations and neurological syndromes has not yet been established but is strongly suspected.

However, there is little uncertainty that global temperatures are rising. "The World Meteorological Organisation confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot," Mr Pasztor said.

The WHO said last Thursday that the Zika virus was spreading "explosively" in the Americas, causing an "extremely high" level of alarm.

In China, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said while the country faces the risk of the import of the Zika virus, the possibility of an outbreak is low.

The commission warned on Friday of the risk of imported Zika cases, even though no case has been reported in China.

Experts with the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe that even should there be imported cases, the virus will be less likely to spread because of the cold weather.

The commission said it will cooperate with the WHO and closely track the virus outbreak in other regions.

In India, the government said it is closely monitoring the spread of the Zika virus in several countries and has initiated steps to counter its possible outbreak in the country.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and all necessary steps have been initiated to ensure that India is well prepared in case of any eventuality," Health and Family Welfare Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said on Friday.

Health Ministry officials said they have been directed to set up a technical group to monitor the Zika situation and also to recommend precautionary steps for India.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Mosquito-borne viruses 'will go up with rising temperatures''. Print Edition | Subscribe