Apr 21, 2019 | Updated: 02:21 PM EDT

Europe is At Risk of Dengue Fever

Apr 16, 2019 08:11 PM EDT

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The diseases that are insect-borne such as leishmaniasis, encephalitis and dengue fever are on the rise and now feared to have spread into many areas of Europe, in a recent study has found.

Disease outbreaks of these types of illnesses are increasing because of the constant climate change and the expansion of international trade and travel, the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease said in Amsterdam on Saturday.

Even though Europe was unaffected by these types of diseases before, especially those that have higher latitudes and altitudes like some parts of northern Europe, they are now at risk of outbreaks unless quick action is done to improve the data sharing and the surveillance in the areas, the experts said.

"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 globalization, socioeconomic development, urbanization and widespread changes to land use which need to be addressed to limit the importation and spread," said the lead author Professor Jan Semenza, of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm.

This statement was backed by Giovanni Rezza, of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in Rome. "Lessons from recent outbreaks of the West Nile virus in North America and the chikungunya virus in the Caribbean and Italy highlight the importance of assessing future vector-borne disease risks," he said.

Another cause of Dengue Fever outbreak is global warming as it has allowed ticks, mosquitoes and other insects that carry diseases to proliferate and adapt to the sudden change in seasons. It has also allowed these insects to invade new territories in Europe over the past few years and it this study has been proven because of the recent outbreaks of dengue in Croatia and France, malaria in Greece, the West Nile fever in south-east Europe and chikungunya in France and Italy.

In the previous decades, the dengue disease is known to transmit largely to tropical and subtropical regions because the cold climate in countries that has a winter season kills the larvae and eggs of the mosquitos. Countries with hot seasons could enable mosquitos to survive and spread.

 "Given the ongoing spread of invasive mosquitoes and other vectors across Europe, we must anticipate outbreaks and move to intervene early," added Semenza.

"Public health agencies need to improve surveillance, for example through early warning systems, and increased awareness of the potential risks among healthcare workers and the general public."

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