Malaria in Europe?

Article by Isabel Key and Mina Frost.

When you get too cold, you can put on more clothes; when it’s raining, you can use an umbrella. Other living things can’t do this, so to cope with changing temperatures and rainfall, many of them move around the planet – they migrate [2].

Diseases are caused by tiny living things called microbes: these could be viruses, bacteria, fungi or other parasites. Each microbe has a certain type of climate it likes to live in [2]. As the climate changes, they migrate around the planet to stay in climates they like. Some diseases are carried by insects, such as mosquitoes, so the movement of these animals is also important [1].

In general scientists expect diseases that are currently found around the tropics to spread away from the equator [3]. For example, West Nile Virus [7, 8] has been spreading in Europe, Asia and North America, and is expected to continue doing so [2]. Malaria might come to Europe by around 2030, but it’s unlikely to have big effects [6].

Another problem is that higher temperatures make bacteria grow and multiply faster [3]. Even worse, it helps them evolve resistance to antibiotics [5], meaning we can’t treat the diseases. How serious the effects of this will be depends on progress in medicine [4], which is always hard to predict. What are your thoughts on this topic?

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