Scientists say Europe is on the brink of facing a major health threat from dangerous tropical diseases, as climate change is changing weather patterns in the continent and people are moving more.
The harsh winters and generally colder conditions in Europe have long made insects that spread deadly diseases such as dengue fever and West Nile fever just can not survive and spread the infection to new hosts. While tiny disease-carrying creatures can travel a distance from epidemic areas to more northerly regions, they can not cope with the sudden drop in temperatures as seasons change in Europe.
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However, with climate change affecting the temperature and rainfall regimes in Europe, scientists have warned that this would have a significant effect on creating conditions conducive to the reproduction and spread of these insects.
Scientists presented new research on the alarming spread of the vector range at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases on Saturday. "The harsh reality is that longer warm seasons will widen the seasonal window for the potential spread of vector-borne diseases and will favor larger epidemics,"The author of the study, Dr. Giovanni Rezza, warned the director of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, Italy.
Alarmingly, Rezza added that "The Mediterranean Europe is now a part-time tropical region", in which these disease spread vectors "Are already established."
Epidemics of tropical diseases have occurred in Europe in the last decade, due to the spread of mosquitoes, ranging from dengue fever in France to malaria in Greece. Cases of the incurable chikungunya virus have been reported in Italy and France after their first appearance in Europe in 2007. In addition, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reports that 2018, transmission rates of West Nile fever was higher than in the previous seven years.
Experts in the spread of deadly tropical diseases have called for more efforts to monitor the threat so as to be better prepared to deal with potential epidemics.
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