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Hoarding rainwater could 'dramatically' expand range of dengue-fever mosquito
Date:1/27/2009

Ecologists have developed a new model to predict the impact of climate change on the dengue fever-carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti in Australia information that could help limit its spread.

According to the study, published in the new issue of the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology, climate change and evolutionary change could act together to accelerate and expand the mosquito's range. But human behaviour in the form of storing water to cope with climate change is likely to have an even greater impact.

Lead author, Dr Michael Kearney of the University of Melbourne says: "The potential direct impact of climate on the distribution and abundance of Ae. aegypti is minor when compared to the potential effect of changed water-storage behaviour. In many Australian cities and towns, a major impact of climate change is reduced rainfall, resulting in a dramatic increase in domestic rainwater storage and other forms of water hoarding."

"Water tanks and other water storage vessels such as modified wheelie bins are potential breeding sites for this disease-bearing mosquito. Without due caution with water storage hygiene, this indirect effect of climate change via human adaptation could dramatically re-expand the mosquito's current range," he says.

Ae. aegypti probably arrived in Australia in the 19th century on ships carrying mosquito larvae-infested water barrels. During the late 19th century, Ae. aegypti was widespread in urban Australia, stretching as far south as Sydney and Perth. By the late 1960s, Ae. aegypti was restricted to the northern half of Queensland (where it currently resides) thanks in part to removal of old galvanised tin rainwater tanks, installation of piped water, insecticides and new power lawnmowers that helped people keep their back yards tidy.

The study has major implications for public health interventions in Australia and other areas of t
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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-079-498-04317
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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