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Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Australia
Russell, R.C. 2009. Mosquito-borne disease and climate change in Australia: time for a reality check. Australian Journal of Entomology 48: 1-7.

Citing a number of pertinent references, the author -- a Professor with the Department of Medicine of the University of Sydney and founding Director of its Department of Medical Entomology -- reports that "during the past 10 years, there has been increasing concern for health impacts of global warming in Australia, and continuing projections and predictions for increasing mosquito-borne disease as a result of climate change." However, he writes that these claims "are relatively simplistic, and do not take adequate account of the current or historic situations of the vectors and pathogens, and the complex ecologies that might be involved."

What was done
Russell reviews the consequences of these several inadequacies for malaria, dengue fever, the arboviral arthritides (Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses) and the arboviral encephalitides (Murray Valley encephalitis and Kunjin viruses). This he does within the context of predictions that have been made for projected climate changes as proposed and modeled by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

What was learned
The abstract of Russell's paper begins with a question: "Will warming climate increase the risk or prevalence of mosquito-borne disease in Australia, as has been projected in a number of scientific publications and governmental reports?" His conclusion provides the answer: "there might be some increases in mosquito-borne disease in Australia with a warming climate, but with which mosquitoes and which pathogens, and where and when, cannot be easily discerned."

What it means
In the words of the mosquito expert: "of itself, climate change as currently projected, is not likely to provide great cause for public health concern with mosquito-borne disease in Australia."

Reviewed 27 May 2009