LONDON, May 28 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than three million cases of dengue fever, the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease, could be avoided annually if global warming is limited to 1.5 ° C, Such a study is the first to show the health benefits of a cooler planet.
The mosquito-borne viral infection causes flu-like symptoms and can be fatal if it develops into a severe hemorrhagic form. The annual number of cases has increased 30-fold in the last 50 years, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Using computer models, researchers at the University of East Anglia in the UK found that limiting the warming by 2 degrees Celsius would increase annual dengue cases in Latin America and the Caribbean by as much as 2.8 million people by the end of the century could reduce.
Another half million cases could be prevented if the rise in global temperatures were lowered to 1
"There is growing concern about the potential impact of climate change on human health," said lead author Felipe Colón-González.
"This is the first study to show that reducing heating from 2C to 1.5C could have important health benefits."
Since 2000, climate change has caused severe damage to human health through increased heat waves. The spread of mosquito-borne diseases and malnutrition in crop failures, according to a Lancet report from last October.
Current national commitments to curb emissions are setting the world at around 3 ° C above pre-industrial levels, well above the "well below" 2C target set at a 2015 Paris summit.
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 impact of warming on human health is critical to public health preparedness and response," co-author Iain Lake said in a statement.
"More needs to be done to reduce (carbon dioxide) and fast if we want to avoid these effects," he said.
Dengue infects approximately 390 million people worldwide each year, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), an estimated 54 million cases in Latin America and the Caribbean.
There is no cure for dengue and medical experts recommend early detection and expert care as the most effective method of overcoming an infection.
Reporting by Lin Taylor @ linnytayls, edited by Claire Cozens.
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