The geographical range of vector-borne diseases is rapidly expanding as the climate gets warmer every year, according to a new study. That means we will see an increase in cases of chikungunya, dengue fever, leishmaniasis and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
Experts say the combo of climate change and international travel will cause outbreaks in Europe, especially over the next decade. Scientists predict parts of northern Europe in higher latitudes and altitudes that were unaffected by this in the past will also have outbreaks.
In order to reduce the impact, experts call for preventive measures to be taken like monitor environmental and climatic precursors to outbreaks and improve surveillance. “Climate change is not the only or even the main factor driving the increase in vector-borne diseases across Europe, but it is one of many factors alongside globalisation, socioeconomic development, urbanisation, and widespread land-use change which need to be addressed to limit the importation and spread of these diseases,” Jan Semenza, co-author of the study told a news portal.
Long hot seasons will expand the window for vector-borne diseases to spread more rapidly and frequently and cause more outbreaks, according to c-author of the study Giovanni Rezza. “We must be prepared to deal with these tropical infections. Lessons from recent outbreaks of West Nile virus in North America and chikungunya in the Caribbean and Italy highlight the importance of assessing future vector-borne disease risks and preparing contingencies for future outbreaks,” Rezza told a news portal.
Global warming has made it easier for mosquitoes, ticks, and other disease-carrying insects to adapt to different seasons and invade new territories across the world. Over the past decade Europe has seen a rise in cases in the following outbreaks: Malaria in Greece, dengue in France and Croatia, chikungunya virus in Italy and France and West Nile Fever in Southeast Europe. Unfortunately, this is just a fraction of what is really occurring across the globe."Mediterranean Europe is now a part-time tropical region, where competent vectors like the Tiger mosquito are already established," Rezza told a news portal.
According to the new study, longer warm seasons, warmer winter temperatures and extremely hot summers are favourable conditions for ticks and mosquitoes to cause a lot of damage. By2040-2060, climate change models show Europe could see a3.8 per cent growth habitat of Ixodes ricinus.
Researchers hope the finding urge public health agencies to create innovative strategies and interventions to tackle this issue like implementing early warning systems and raising public awareness about the risks. The study's findings were originally published in the Journal of European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.