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Sat Jan 30, 2016, 04:13 AM

Is El Niño to Blame for the "Explosive" Zika Virus Outbreak?

What's the cause of the outbreak? According to Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, the outbreak was triggered by "a perfect storm" of biological, economic, and climatic events. Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that can carry Zika, has been growing in population in Latin America since first being introduced to Brazil via trans-Pacific shipping routes in the late 1980s. Brazil is also now in the middle of a severe economic downturn, while the government is in disarray as President Dilma Rousseff faces calls for impeachment for her involvement in a corruption scandal involving Petrobras, the state oil company. That has left the country with a weakened public health system that is struggling to effectively eradicate dangerous mosquitoes. This week, Brazil's health minister admitted he was "badly losing the battle" against mosquito-borne illnesses.

But the most important factor, Garrett said, is a mosquito population boom triggered by above-average rainfall, a product of this year's exceptionally strong El Niño in the Pacific. Over the last month, flooding in Brazil, Paraguay, and elsewhere has been the worst in half a century, forcing 150,000 people to evacuate their homes. Those conditions are perfect for mosquito breeding.


But while it's certainly true that global warming could lead to increases in the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, in the case of Zika, the mosquitoes in question have been well established in the affected region for nearly two decades.

More important than changes in mosquito distribution is the change in rainfall caused by El Niño. While this El Niño wasn't caused by climate change per se, it is happening in a context of overall higher ocean and atmospheric temperatures—2015 was the world's hottest year on record—that may have helped make it stronger than usual. And there is a growing body of research finding that climate change could dramatically increase the frequency of severe El Niños, meaning that regardless of how mosquito ranges spread, places that already have mosquito problems now could see them get worse.


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Reply Is El Niño to Blame for the "Explosive" Zika Virus Outbreak? (Original post)
ellenrr Jan 2016 OP
applegrove Jan 2016 #1
ellenrr Jan 2016 #2
applegrove Jan 2016 #3

Response to ellenrr (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 04:23 AM

1. The zika virus was in Asia in the last few years. I guess

it could have mutated when it hit the Americas. Still climate change has made it worse. I wonder what the GOP candidates have to say?

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Response to applegrove (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 04:28 AM

2. what difference does it make what the gop candidates say?

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Response to ellenrr (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 04:52 AM

3. They are so anti science regarding climate change. The US is about to get hit with the zika virus.

The explosion of cases is partially because of climate change. They don't believe in the dangers of climate change or the importance of abortion when you know your child is going to be severely damaged. I'm saying I'd like to see them squirm now before a health care crisis in the US. Then, in a few months, once the danger is throughout the south try and explain their positions again. See if they can evolve when faced with a horrible, local and immediate crisis. I think their non responses would really wake up the south to the dangers of the Republican Party in their denial of the public good in fighting for the environment. The GOP cannot blame this zika virus crisis on the 'other'. What a horrid tragedy. But then we were warned climate change would bring one calamity after another. And here it is. A wake up in the south on climate change may mean that they vote to stop the next disaster. My point is how long will the GOP see it as a political issue vs a human one? I'd like to see the GOP candidates answer the question to show the public just who they are.

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