Australia has been warned of the rising threat of dengue fever and heat stroke deaths in the wake of a study that found climate change is aiding the spread of infectious diseases around the world.

The report, part-funded by the US National Science Foundation and published in Science, found that climate change is already abetting diseases in wildlife and agriculture, with humans at heightened risk from dengue fever, malaria and cholera.

Wealthy countries will do much better at predicting and tackling new disease threats than poorer ones, according to the study.

"Moving forward, we need models that are sensitive to both direct and indirect effects of climate change on infectious disease," said Richard Ostfeld, co-author of the report.

"We need to transcend simple arguments about which is more important – climate change or socioeconomics – and ask just how much harder will it be to control diseases as the climate warms? Will it be possible at all in developing countries?"

While Australia, as a wealthy nation, possesses the resources to respond to the health impacts of climate change, studies have shown the country still faces significant challenges.

By Olilver Millman

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