Very dangerous mosquito-borne diseases are spreading in Europe due to the climate crisis. “More cases and possible deaths”

Diseases such as dengue fever and malaria end up spreading across the globe. They are spreading to hitherto unaffected parts of the world: northern Europe, America, Asia and Australia.

Dengue fever and malaria are spreading in Europe PHOTO Shuttestock

The insects spread diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, the prevalence of which has increased enormously over the past 80 years as global warming has provided them with warmer, wetter conditions to thrive, The Guardian notes.

Professor Rachel Lowe, who leads a global health resilience group in Barcelona, ​​Spain, warned that outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases would spread to currently unaffected parts of northern Europe, Asia, North America and Australia in the next few decades.

The world must be prepared for a sudden spread of these diseases

She is due to give a presentation at the global congress of the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Barcelona to warn that the world must be prepared for a sudden increase in these diseases.

Global warming,

due to climate change, means that the disease vectors that carry and spread malaria and dengue (fever) can find a home in many regions, with outbreaks occurring in areas where people are likely to have no immunity and public health systems be

unprepared”says Lowe.

The harsh reality is that longer warm seasons will widen the seasonal window for the spread of mosquito-borne diseases and favor increasingly frequent outbreaks that are increasingly complex to treat.”she added.

Dengue fever was mainly found in tropical and subtropical regions because freezing overnight temperatures kill the insect's larvae and eggs. Longer warm seasons and less frequent frosts have made it the fastest-growing mosquito-borne viral disease in the world, and it is taking hold in Europe.

The Asian tiger mosquito, in 13 European countries

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), carries dengue fever and has established itself in 13 European countries as of 2023: Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Greece and Portugal.

The insect is increasingly widespread: nine of the 10 most hospitable years for disease transmission have occurred since 2000, and the number of dengue fever cases reported to the WHO has increased eightfold in the past two decades, from 500,000 in 2000 to over 5 million in 2019.

Lowe said climate breakdown will greatly amplify this spread as droughts follow floods:

Droughts and floods linked to climate change can lead to greater transmission of the virus, with stored water providing additional breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Lessons from previous outbreaks underscore the importance of assessing future disease risks and preparing contingencies for future outbreaks.”says Rachel Lowe.

She said if the current trajectory of high carbon emissions and population growth continued, the number of people living in areas with mosquito-borne diseases would double to 4.7 billion by the end of the century.

Lowe added: “With climate change looking so difficult to tackle, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases like dengue and malaria in continental Europe. We need to anticipate outbreaks and intervene early to prevent disease from occurring in the first place. Efforts must focus on improving surveillance with early warning and response systemshate similar to those seen in other parts of the world, to direct scarce resources more effectively to areas most at risk,

to control and prevent disease outbreaks and save lives.”

Climate deterioration is also amplifying the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance, warns another specialist, who will be present at the conference.

Prof Sabiha Essack, head of the antimicrobial resistance unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said climate breakdown is a “threat multiplier” for antimicrobial resistance:

Climate change compromises the ecological and environmental integrity of living systems and enables agentstheir pathogenic to provoh

more and more diseases. Impacts on water systems, food-producing animals and crops threaten the global food supply. Human activities associated with population growth and transportation, along with climate change, are increasing antibiotic resistance and the spread of waterborne and vector-borne diseases of humans, animals and plants.”Essack concluded.