Influence of Climate on Malaria in China
Malaria is the fifth leading cause of death from infectious diseases worldwide, after respiratory infections, HIV/AIDS, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis. With half the world’s population living in areas at risk of malaria transmission, it remains a public health issue in many countries, including China. To understand the epidemiology of the disease, it is important to study the climate and environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, and altitude, because these factors influence the life cycles and development of both the malaria parasite and mosquito vector. Global warming and climate change can increase the areas at risk of malaria incidence and affect transmission rates. As temperatures get warmer, incubation periods for the parasite and mosquito development can shorten, and malaria transmission can occur at higher elevations, infecting populations that have not been exposed to the disease. While control measures and efforts have been undertaken to eliminate malaria in China, the disease still exists in concentrated areas. Changes in temperatures and rainfall could reverse control efforts if the disease spreads from the seven provinces in which it has been concentrated.