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Heat and humidity: what consequences for health can a more 'tropical' climate bring

2023-03-25T11:17:30.287Z


Temperatures are rising virtually across the country. The risk of the spread of infections not so common in these latitudes.


Increases the temperature and also the humidity.

And the climate becomes more and more similar to that of tropical zones.

The change, which has been taking place in the last 60 years, is beginning to have consequences on health.

This has to do with the fact that the environment becomes more conducive to the

circulation of certain infections

.

From the National Meteorological Service (SMN) confirm the trend.

“Statistics show that temperatures are rising practically across the country.

The central zone of Argentina today has climatic conditions that were previously typical of the north," says Cindy Fernández, meteorological communicator for the SMN.

In this sense, he warns that it is not only hotter: "What happens is that

in a large part of the Pampas region and the coast there are also higher levels of humidity

."

"We had an exception that was the product of the La Niña phenomenon and brought drought, but if we look at the trend of the last 60 years, we find more rain," he adds.

In March, a record heat wave was experienced in Buenos Aires and much of the center and north of the country.

Photo Rolando Andrade Stracuzzi

He says that this combo leads to

the area in which the dengue vector lives

, for example, has spread.

In numbers, he details, from 1961 to today, in the north of Buenos Aires and a large part of the coast, rainfall during the summer increased between 20 and 100 millimeters.

Meanwhile, currently, the average summer temperature in the same area increased between

half a degree and a degree and a half

.

"Although one should not talk about a tropical climate, because we are not in the tropics, the truth is that due to the hot and humid conditions we have similar to those of those areas," the SMN reference told Clarín, who points

out

that "Many studies relate the weather to some diseases and that all viruses and bacteria depend somewhat on temperatures."

That said, it remains to wonder about the impact.

About the way in which it already manifests itself today and what could happen in the future.

Aedes aegypti.

The mosquito that transmits dengue.

In this regard, Tomás Orduna, former head of the Tropical Medicine and Traveler's Medicine Service of the Muñiz Hospital, refers.

He comments that certain changes linked to the climate and the ecosystem can favor a better adaptation of insects that transmit diseases.

"Dengue is a strong example of this," he maintains and affirms that there is "a geographical expansion" related to weather conditions.

That explains, continues Orduna, that we have

cases of autochthonous dengue in Córdoba

.

Although he clarifies that "it is not linear" and that there are variants associated with phenomena such as La Niña and El Niño.

Among the vectors to consider, Orduna highlights that although we are free of malaria transmission,

surveillance of the

Anopheles 

mosquito must be expanded taking into account the changes towards a more tropical climate.

The bug is the insect that transmits Chagas and is present mostly in the north of the country.

On the other hand, he points out that the

vinchuca

, which transmits

Chagas disease

, has less chances of survival in the face of excess heat.

“This shows that the increase in temperature can also keep some vectors out,” he adds.

Culex

, a mosquito that spreads West Nile fever and St. Louis encephalitis, presents isolated cases in the center and north of the country

.

"We should also increase their vigilance," says Orduna and says that "we must pay attention to the vectors that are in the north of the country and consider the possibility that they reach the center."

Finally, he mentions ticks

and

maintains that "it is not clear that their presence or spread is linked to climate change."

“Today we are more aware of tick-borne diseases and man, due to the growth of cities, deforestation and the change in land use, is getting closer to them”, Orduna specifies.

And he explains that they can transmit

bacteria such as Rickettsiae

.

“There are cases in the northwest of the country, there they manifest with potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever.

In central Argentina there is a benign development of these bacteria with skin lesions”, he adds.

A more tropical climate could contribute to the spread of new infections.

Alejandro Krolewiecki, a CONICET researcher and a doctor specializing in tropical infections at the Institute for Research in Tropical Diseases of the National University of Salta, points out that "not all tropical diseases are transmitted by vectors."

"Changes in weather conditions can also impact

water and soil,

although this is not enough for the development of an infection," he warns.

And he explains that certain conditions of vulnerability should be added for, for example, the spread of

intestinal parasitism

.

“These are parasites that are found in the intestines of people and are eliminated through fecal matter.

They tend to appear in places where

there are no sewage networks

or places where

there is no access to water

to wash hands”, he comments.

There are many species and each one has its characteristics: they can cause

anemia, fatigue, intestinal discomfort and diarrhea

.

In children there is the possibility of causing

 growth disorders

.

In relation to vectors,

sandflies

stand out , which are mosquitoes that transmit

leishmaniasis

, another parasite that can

affect the skin and runny nose

or even have a

visceral manifestation

that can be fatal.

What can be done?

For Krolewiecki, the key is to

anticipate

investing in research to understand and control any type of outbreak.

At the same time, it is necessary to work on epidemiological surveillance for early detection.

"It is important to know the particularities of each case, to know if infected people should be isolated or treated in a specific way," she says.

He says that part of the research also points to the development of vaccines (there are already works under development for malaria and dengue) and new medicines.

Eduardo López, an infectologist at Hospital Gutiérrez, agrees that it is essential to work on prevention and that medical institutions are prepared to detect these infections in time.

“A few years ago there were no cases of dengue or chikungunya in the City, for example.

These changes, linked to climatic issues, among others, generate a certain amount of

tension in the health system

and force the addition of tools for early diagnosis”, says López.

MG

look too

After the "extreme" March, is the heat also going to break records in the fall?

Buenos Aires dengue: circulation almost doubles the record year and worries about the post-rain scenario

Source: clarin

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