Global climate change is expected to have many negative effects due to increasing the temperature of nearly every area of the world and intensifying weather events such as storms. The change of weather can be expected to have secondary effects that can also impact human health, such as increase in the population of mosquitoes. Two diseases which are spread by mosquitoes are already a concern in many areas, the West Nile Virus and the Zika virus. Experts believe that the Aedes species of mosquito which is known to carry dangerous viruses such as Zika spread rapidly throughout Brazil and South America due to the warmer weather caused by the 2015 El Nino effect (Paz & Semenza, 2016). Both flooding and drought conditions are expected to increase due to climate change. Both conditions lead to increased mosquito populations as in one case it increases natural breeding grounds through open water, while in the other people tend to store more water, which also promotes mosquito populations. Further concerns could include the spread of dengue fever and malaria, which are spread by the same species of mosquito.
Developed and undeveloped countries face different effects as a result of climate change and its secondary effects. Areas around the equator, many of which include islands, peninsulas and other features with significant coastline, can expect to suffer from rising sea levels which claim land. The warmer weather is potentially an indicator that mosquito populations will increase due to improved breeding conditions. Mosquitos are already found on nearly every continent; however the areas where the Aedes mosquito is found could expand to areas which are far from the tropical heat where climate change is expected to cause the most damage (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2014.). Undeveloped countries have several disadvantages with regard to the potential increase in mosquitoes and the Zika and West Nile Virus that are carried by them because they often do not have the necessary resources to carry out projects to reduce the mosquito population, and they often lack the access to health care that results in increased prevention as well as high quality treatment. Developed countries such as the United States have many advantages because they can carry out planning to reduce, contain and even eradicate mosquitoes. Such countries tend to have a strong health infrastructure. In the case of the United States the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides monitoring, analysis and recommendations which help to protect communities.
There are several strategies community nurses can use to promote health despite the potential ill effects due to climate change. Prevention through education and awareness is one of the approaches that can ensure best outcomes. Education and awareness could assist with reducing the mosquito population and ensuring precautions are taken when contagious disease such as Zika is suspected. Developing nations can provide many examples of local education and awareness projects to help community members to reduce the mosquito population and protect themselves and their families. Actions include tips to reduce the potential for water storage to become mosquito breeding grounds, the need to wear long sleeves and long pants to avoid being bitten, and steps to take if one is showing symptoms of a mosquito borne virus. Community health nurses can benefit from studies and evaluations of such projects while considering which prevention models would work best in their communities. Community health nurses can also inform local and regional efforts to reduce or prevent mosquitoes through insecticides or the development of vaccinations through research. Community nurses will also help to manage the concerns of people who may have been affected by one of these viruses and need testing or treatment.
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2014). Climate Change 2014–Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Regional Aspects. Cambridge University Press.
- Paz, S., & Semenza, J. C. (2016). El Niño and climate change—contributing factors in the dispersal of Zika virus in the Americas?. The Lancet, 387(10020), 745.
- Sarwar, M. (2015). b. Source Reduction Practices for Mosquitoes (Diptera) Management to Prevent Dengue, Malaria and Other Arboborne Diseases. American Journal of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, 1(2), 110-116.