Climate change to cause dengue outbreaks in non-vulnerable high-altitude areas: Study

ISLAMABAD, Nov 22 (APP):Pakistan after receiving massive manifestations of spiking up global warming, the environmental degradation and shift in monsoon weather pattern and increased temperatures would face spread of dengue outbreaks in non-vulnerable high-altitude areas.

A study carried out by the scientists and experts from the Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), Health Services Academy (HSA) and National Institute of Health (NIH) titled “Modelling the impact of climate change on dengue outbreaks and future spatiotemporal shift in Pakistan” discussed significant impacts of climate change on the intensity and spread of dengue outbreaks.

The research got published in a leading environmental and health journal Environmental Geochemistry and Health.

The much-needed research underlined a mix of outcomes highlighting rise and decline in the outbreak scenarios of dengue disease.
The study’s aim was to assess the number of dengue transmission suitable days (DTSD) in Pakistan for the baseline (1976–2005) and future (2006–2035, 2041–2070, and 2071–2099) periods under Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios.

“Our findings also indicate that DTSD would spread across Pakistan, particularly in areas where we have never seen dengue infections previously. The good news is that the DTSD in current hotspot cities is projected to decrease in the future due to climate change.”

The research while indicating disease rise during the baseline period (1976-2005), identified the top ten hotspot cities with a higher frequency of DTSD namely Karachi, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Jhelum, Lahore, Islamabad, Balakot, Peshawar, Kohat, and Faisalabad.

The rising temperatures in the North though rang the alarm bells for the researchers as due to climate change there was an elevation-dependent shift in DTSD to high-altitude cities belonging to Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also including the Federal Capital.

It noted that for instance in the 2020s, Kotli, Muzaffarabad, and Drosh; in the 2050s, Garhi Dopatta, Quetta, and Zhob; and in the 2080s, Chitral and Bunji. “Karachi, Islamabad, and Balakot will remain highly vulnerable to dengue outbreaks for all the future periods of the twenty-first century,” the study cautioned.

The study had further revealed potential spatiotemporal shift and future hotspots of DTSD owing to climate change.
The results show a higher DTSD during the monsoon season in the baseline in the study area except for Sindh and South Punjab.

The study outcomes show that in the future periods, a temporal shift (extension) towards pre- and post-monsoon season was predicted.

However, there was a temporal shift in the region during the post- and pre-monsoon season, which provides suitable breeding conditions for dengue mosquitos due to freshwater; therefore, local authorities needed to take adaption and mitigation actions.