Even a minor rise in temperature might drastically increase malaria infections among humans in regions currently having extremely cold climatic conditions, suggests a new study.
According to senior scientist at Penn State, Jessica Waite, the study shows that even a slight rise in temperature could increase the risk of malaria as the parasite development rate increases at such lower temperature than estimated previously.
Parasites develop much faster when the temperatures alter naturally, from warmer during day to cooler during the nights, Waite added.
The malaria transmission rate to humans highly depends on the time taken for parasite development within the mosquito. And so, the faster the parasite development rate, the greater are the chances of the mosquito surviving long enough to let the parasites complete development and transmit to the humans, said professor Matthew Thomas from the Penn State.
For the study, the researchers utilized 2 significant malaria hosting species of mosquito across the globe known as Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles stephensi. These malaria infected mosquitoes were maintained in the lab under an array of different temperature settings, ranging between 16°C to 20 °C.
Besides, a separate mosquito set was also maintained at 27°C- the temperature where the rate of malaria transmission is generally highest. Additionally, the team of researchers also altered the daily temperature 10°C to 5°C above as well as below daily mean.
Traditional model predicts that parasites within mosquito take around 56 days for complete development at a cool 18°C. However, the finding of the new study reveals that around 31 days are needed for such a development to take place for the species Anopheles stephensi.