Rising temperatures bring threat of malaria deaths
Published 26/02/2010 | 05:00
IRELAND can expect a rise in water- and food-borne deaths, particularly among the elderly, because of climate change.
Nobel laureate John Sweeney, who is also a professor of geography at NUI Maynooth, told a conference yesterday that, as temperatures climbed, the number of people dying in the winter would fall -- but the numbers were likely to increase during summer, particularly in cities.
Speaking at the Impact of Climate Change on Health conference in Dublin yesterday, Prof Sweeney said malaria -- commonly found in tropical countries -- could become a problem in Ireland as global warming caused changes to average temperatures.
"Mortality rates in Ireland in winter are substantially higher than in many European countries. This high cold-related mortality may principally be accounted for by fuel poverty and poor housing standards," he said.
"Climate change, by increasing mean temperatures, may be expected to reduce this winter mortality and benefit overall mortality rates in Ireland.
"However, increases in summer temperatures may produce increases in mortality from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, particularly for people living in cities.
"A range of food-borne and water-borne diseases such as salmonella, campylobacter, and E Coli may also become more problematic.
"Perhaps the greatest threat will come as a result of increased winter rainfall to public water supplies which will have crucial public health dimensions"
Higher average temperatures could also bring on asthma and other respiratory diseases, and he could not rule out Ireland having a problem with malaria.