Climate change leads to increased risk of mosquito-borne viral diseases, says EU agency – News Block

COPENHAGEN: European Union officials warned Thursday that there is an increasing risk of mosquito-borne viral diseases such as dengue fever and chikungunya in Europe due to climate change.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said that as Europe is experiencing a warming trend, with heatwaves and flooding becoming more frequent and severe, and summers getting longer and hotter, conditions are more favorable for invasive mosquito species such as Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti.
The Stockholm-based agency said in a report that Aedes albopictus is a known vector of chikungunya and dengue viruses and has become established further north and west in Europe. The other mosquito, Aedes aegypti, known to transmit dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and West Nile viruses, has been established in Cyprus since 2022 and can spread to other European countries.
A decade ago, the Aedes albopictus mosquito established itself in eight European countries, with 114 affected regions. This year, the mosquito is established in 13 countries and 337 regions, the ECDC said.
“If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile fever,” ECDC Director Andrea Ammon said. “Efforts should focus on ways to control mosquito populations, improve surveillance, and enforce personal protection measures.”
Before, diseases were imported from abroad, but “now we have domestically acquired cases,” Ammon said at an online news conference.
The agency said ways to control mosquito populations include removing standing water where mosquitoes breed, using environmentally friendly larvicides and promoting community awareness of mosquito control.
To protect themselves, people can use mosquito nets, sleep or rest in rooms with mosquito nets or air conditioning, wear clothing that covers most of the body and use mosquito repellent, the ECDC said.
He said raising awareness about mosquito-borne diseases is essential.
There is no specific treatment for dengue. While about 80% of infections are mild, severe cases can cause internal bleeding, organ damage, and death.
Chikungunya fever, a debilitating disease suspected to affect tens of thousands, was first identified in Africa in 1953. It causes severe joint pain but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine and it is mainly treated with pain relievers.
Ammon said that 1,339 locally acquired cases of West Nile infections, including 104 deaths, were reported in Europe in 2022, the highest number since an epidemic in 2018.
Symptoms of West Nile fever can include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea, and fatigue. People with West Nile fever usually recover on their own, although symptoms can last weeks to months.

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