Malaria was eradicated in Peru 40 years ago, but deforestation and global warming are resulting in a resurgence in the mosquito-borne disease in the Peruvian Amazon.
Over 64,000 cases of malaria have been reported in Peru this year, almost half in the Amazon region of the country, and most doctors think there are many more unreported cases deeper in the jungle.
According to Andean Health Organization doctor Hugo Rodriguez, “Malaria is present. There have been 32,000 cases this year in this area alone – that says malaria is very much present.” He added that “now we are not talking about eradicating malaria any more, as that is impossible and unsustainable; we are doing our best to try and control it.”
Climate change is causing the revival of the disease. Out of season rain is leaving puddles containing infected larvae in previously unaffected areas. Logging is also to blame. Cutting down trees spreads the mosquitoes and their larvae to new areas.
Scientific studies have shown a link between deforestation and malaria in the past. A recent Peruvian study showed that mosquitoes in deforested areas were 300 times more likely to bite than mosquitoes in unlogged areas. The majority of the victims are the loggers themselves. Malaria victims in the Amazon are at a particularly high risk. There are very few health clinics in the Amazon even in heavily populated areas.
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