As summer ends, an abnormally intense rainy season has flooded several East African countries, including Ethiopia and Sudan. The devastating floods have killed 62 people in Sudan alone. And even after the rains end, health risks persist. Drenched land and ravaged infrastructure summons mosquitoes and disease.
In the aftermath of the flooding, Ethipoian officials have reported over 15,000 cases of chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-transmitted virus that is similar to dengue fever. The outbreak is being managed by local ministries of health, but there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya at this time.
Experts have made clear the link between climate change and sub-Saharan summer floods. Climate change is bringing more intense El Niño events. In the summer, this causes significantly higher sea temperatures near East Africa, leading to more rain and floods. Practically the same sequence of events — flooding and a chikungunya outbreak — occurred last year in Sudan.
It is also worth noting that, with warmer temperatures and more intense hurricanes, the Americas are not immune to this problem. Chikungunya recently became a concern in the U.S., with two locally-acquired cases in Puerto Rico.
Here at Massive, we have reported extensively on the public health threats of climate change. This outbreak is just the latest example of a new normal.