Mosquitos that carry the dengue disease could venture into new territory due to climate change and urbanization. New research, however, suggests that higher temperatures might curb the spread of dengue.
Elizabeth McGraw's Research on Mosquitoes
A study by PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease on July 22, 2021 shows that mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus could be more sensitive to extreme heat compared to uninfected mosquitoes. The head of the biology department at Penn State as well as the cofounder of the findings, Elizabeth McGraw, gave a statement.
Elizabeth McGraw stated that it might mean that any mosquito that is carrying dengue especially in an extra-hot area, or even an area experiencing the different sorts of heat spikes, could die. It was noted that this is actually a good thing due to it potentially reducing the amount of dengue in the whole mosquito populations at the extreme edges of the whole mosquito's distribution.
Direct Effects of Global Warming
The direct effects of global warming, which include higher average temperatures as well as more frequent heatwaves will reportedly cause more dramatic shifts in the whole ranges of infectious diseases, according to Elizabeth and her colleagues. The geographic range of the particular Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the viruses responsible for dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and even yellow fever, is now expanding. Yes, the common backyard mosquito can now carry Zika.
According to Popsi, in order to find out how these toasty conditions would directly affect mosquitoes with and without their own microbial passengers, McGraw along with her team did an experiment by placing insects in glass vials. They then submerged them directly into water that was heated to 42 degrees Celsius. This particular ordeal was intended to reflect a really hot day that mosquitoes might potentially face in the while.
The experiment showed mosquitoes that were infected with Wolbachia or dengue fell to the bottom of the vial about 2.5 to five times faster compared to uninfected insects. Quite intriguing, the time that it took for the mosquito to belly-up was not specifically dictated by the amount of bacteria or virus that it was carrying. There is also an interesting explanation behind why some mosquitoes can spread malaria and others cannot.
What's more, mosquitoes were carrying both infections and still did not succumb more quickly than ones with a single infection. McGraw says that there's some threshold going on here where some amount is needed of either of the microbial agents and it now changes the mosquito's physiology or even its ability to cope directly with heat stress.
This could potentially limit the geographic range of the dengue virus itself according to Elizabeth and her team. McGraw noted that it is still unclear which areas will face increased or possibly lesser risk, and therefore deploying the Wolbachia could be the most effective.
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Written by Urian B.