Officials from the European Union issued a warning on Thursday that the risk of mosquito-borne viral infections like dengue and chikungunya in Europe is rising due to climate change.
According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, the conditions are more favorable for invasive mosquito species like Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti because Europe is experiencing a warming trend, with heat waves and flooding becoming more frequent and severe, and summers getting longer and warmer.
The Stockholm-based organization claimed in a paper that Aedes albopictus has been spreading farther north and west in Europe and is a known carrier of the chikungunya and dengue viruses.
The other mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has been present in Cyprus since 2022 and may expand to other European nations. This mosquito spreads the dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, zika, and West Nile viruses.
Aedes albopictus mosquito infestations afflicted 114 locations in eight European nations ten years ago. According to the ECDC, the mosquito has established itself in 13 countries and 337 regions this year.
“If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, and West Nile fever,” ECDC director Andrea Ammon said. “Efforts need to focus on ways to control mosquito populations, enhancing surveillance and enforcing personal protective measures.”
Previously, the infections were brought in from abroad, but “now we have domestically acquired cases,” Ammon stated during a news conference that was broadcast live.
According to the agency, removing standing water where mosquitoes reproduce, utilizing environmentally friendly larvicides, and raising community understanding about mosquito management are all practical approaches to reducing mosquito populations.
The ECDC advised using mosquito bed nets, sleeping or resting in screened or air-conditioned rooms, dressing in clothing that covers most of the body, and applying insect repellent to protect oneself.
It was stated that spreading knowledge about illnesses brought on by mosquitoes is crucial.
Dengue does not have a specific treatment. Infections can cause internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death, but only around 80% of infections are severe.
Chikungunya fever, a crippling illness that is thought to affect tens of thousands, was discovered for the first time in Africa in 1953.
The joints are severely painful, yet it seldom results in death. There is no vaccine for it, and painkillers are the mainstay of treatment.
The most significant number since an epidemic in 2018 was reported in Europe in 2022, according to Ammon, with 1,339 locally acquired cases of West Nile infections, 104 deaths, Headache, fever, aches in the muscles and joints, nausea, and exhaustion are all possible signs of West Nile fever.
Even though symptoms of West Nile fever can continue for weeks or months, most patients recover independently.