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'Airport Malaria' Risk Rising With Global Warming
Date:12/12/2008

Researchers say once inhospitable climes becoming more conducive to spread

FRIDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Global warming is raising the risk for infection with so-called "airport malaria" in malaria-free zones of the United States and Europe, researchers warn.

Here's how it happens, as the scientists explain it: Mosquitoes make their way on to planes in tropical regions, and at the end of a flight can escape into the increasingly warmer climates of developed countries, where they now have a better chance of surviving and proliferating.

"The real problem with malaria is that it is not rare," said study author Dr. James H. Diaz, program director of environmental and occupational health at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. "It's the most common cause of infections in the world. It kills over 12 million people per year, and they're probably 300 to 500 million cases in the world every year. And the malaria-endemic areas of the world are themselves growing as the world warms."

"And we also know that an infected patient can get on a plane and get anywhere in 24 hours," added Diaz. "And an infected mosquito can get on a plane, as well. And in a warming world where mosquitoes live longer, have more breeding areas, and longer egg-laying seasons, this is a way the disease can be reintroduced into areas where it is now uncommon, such as the U.S."

Diaz and his colleagues presented their findings Monday at the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene annual meeting, in New Orleans.

Diaz explained that in the more developed areas of the world where malaria is not widespread, the most common type of malaria is "imported malaria."

As distinguished from "airport malaria," this form of disease transmission simply involves the travel of a patient who had previously been infected with the illness in a region where malaria is common to regions where the disease is not common, such as
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