ECDC: Cases of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases have increased in Europe

June 11, 2024  17:36

Cases of dengue fever and other mosquito-borne diseases are rising significantly in Europe as climate change creates warmer conditions conducive to the spread of invasive mosquitoes, the EU health agency warned on Tuesday.

In 2023, 130 locally acquired dengue cases will be reported in the region, which includes the European Union (EU) as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (EEA), up from 71 in 2022, AFP wrote.

This is a “significant increase” compared to the 2010-2021 period, when the number of cases for the entire period was 73, the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said.

The number of imported cases is also rising, with 1,572 cases in 2022 and 4,900 in 2023, the “highest number” since EU monitoring began in 2008.

“Europe is already seeing how climate change is creating more favorable conditions for invasive mosquitoes to spread into previously unaffected areas and infect more people with diseases such as dengue,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon.

“We see that there is a link between warmer temperatures in the summer, milder winters and the spread of mosquitoes in areas where they are now absent,” Ammon said at a news conference.

Regarding West Nile virus, 713 cases of local infection and 67 deaths were reported in 123 different regions of nine EU countries in 2023.

Although the number of cases decreased from 1,133 in 2022, the number of affected regions was the highest since 2018.

The mosquito responsible for the spread of West Nile virus, Culex pipiens, is native to Europe and is widespread throughout the EU/EEA, the ECDC said.

The Aedes aegypti species, responsible for the spread of yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika, has recently settled in Cyprus and some remote regions of the EU, such as Madeira and the French Caribbean islands, experts said.

“Climate change is widely expected to significantly affect the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in Europe, for example by creating environmental conditions favorable for the establishment and growth of mosquito populations,” the ECDC said.

According to the agency, developing coordinated measures such as insecticide nets and indoor spraying, as well as simple measures such as removing stagnant water from balconies and gardens, and personal protection measures to reduce the risk of mosquito bites, is crucial to control mosquito-borne diseases.

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