Why Tropical Diseases In Europe May Not Be Rare For Much Longer

tropical diseases 9 24
Itsik Marom/Shutterstock

Dengue, a viral infection spread by mosquitoes, is a common disease in parts of Asia and Latin America. Recently, though, France has experienced an outbreak of locally transmitted dengue.

Dengue symptoms can include a fever, headache, joint pain, nausea and a red rash. Occasionally, though, it can lead to more severe disease – and even death.

Every year, France records a number of imported cases of dengue, where people have travelled to a country where dengue is endemic and brought the disease back with them. If a tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) then bites the infected person, it can pass the infection on to someone who hasn’t travelled to an at-risk country. But it won’t transmit between people.

Since 2010, when local dengue transmission was first identified in France, there have been around 12 cases a year. However, since July 2022, there have been nearly 40 cases of locally transmitted dengue. And the French health authorities have warned of more cases to come.

One difficulty with controlling the spread of dengue is that the mosquitoes that spread it are active in the day and at night. The mosquitoes that spread malaria, on the other hand, are mainly active at night, so bed nets are an effective way of reducing the risk of getting malaria in countries where the disease is endemic. But this control measure wouldn’t be as effective against dengue.

Climate change

Mosquitoes spread many infectious diseases, including malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Zika and chikungunya. These diseases are prevalent in areas that can be inhabited by mosquitoes. Habitats are often tropical areas across sub-Saharan Africa, South America or Asia. Transmission is via the mosquito bite, rather than person to person.

Climate change is having, and will continue to have, a significant effect on human and animal populations around the globe. Modelling has predicted that changing temperature and rainfall across Africa could promote new habitats for mosquitoes to breed and, for example, increase yellow fever deaths by up to 25% by 2050. As a result, environmental risks are a core component of the 2026 WHO Global Strategy to Eliminate Yellow Fever Epidemics. By 2030, the population at risk of malaria in Africa will have increased by over 80 million, mainly as a result of climate change.

Mosquitoes cannot fly very far, with distances ranging from a few metres to tens of kilometres. Imported cases of malaria or dengue are already common in returning travellers, but there is typically no local threat to the rest of the population. Despite this, the emerging threats from mosquito-driven diseases extend beyond the tropics.

Indeed, there have been over 570 cases of West Nile virus recorded in Europe this year. Most of these have been recorded in Veneto, in northern Italy.

It seems that the lowlands of Veneto are emerging as an ideal habitat for the Culex mosquitoes, which can host and transmit West Nile virus.

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Globalisation and climate change have spurred the re-emergence of old diseases in new places. And public health authorities are taking these threats seriously. The UK Health Security Agency has a national contingency plan for invasive mosquitoes.

As part of their fieldwork activity, entomologists visit sites such as marshlands in the Thames Estuary in Kent. There, they catch mosquitoes and ticks and take them back to the laboratory for testing. This approach can help identify if the local insect populations are harbouring anything new, such as malaria or dengue, before it starts to spread.


The long-term future for the UK and other parts of Europe could require wider use of public health control measures, such as mosquito nets or insect sprays. Vaccine development is also likely to be critical as a preventive measure.

Yellow fever is already vaccine-preventable, and there are now licensed vaccines against malaria being used in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Dengue vaccine candidates are emerging, with one being licensed in the US. However, it comes with recommendations it should only be used in people who have already had dengue. This limits any widespread roll out.

There are huge numbers of people already at risk of mosquito-driven disease, and global inequities mean that poorer countries are most vulnerable to climate change. The world needs to take seriously the threat of new diseases such as Zika, and neglected diseases, such as dengue and onchocerciasis. Populations at risk are only likely to increase over the coming years and decades.The Conversation

About The Author

Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books:

Yellowstone's Wildlife in Transition

Yellowstone's Wildlife in TransitionOver thirty experts detect worrying signs of a system under strain. They identify three overriding stressors: invasive species, private-sector development of unprotected lands, and a warming climate. Their concluding recommendations will shape the twenty-first-century discussion over how to confront these challenges, not only in American parks but for conservation areas worldwide. Highly readable and fully illustrated.

For more info or to order "Yellowstone's Wildlife in Transition" on Amazon.

The Energy Glut: Climate Change and the Politics of Fatness

The Energy Glut: Climate Change and the Politics of Fatnessby Ian Roberts. Expertly tells the story of energy in society, and places 'fatness' next to climate change as manifestations of the same fundamental planetary malaise. This exciting book argues that the pulse of fossil fuel energy not only started the process of catastrophic climate change, but also propelled the average human weight distribution upwards. It offers and appraises for the reader a set of personal and political de-carbonising strategies.

For more info or to order "The Energy Glut" on Amazon.

Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet

Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest to Save a Troubled Planet by Todd Wilkinson and Ted Turner. Entrepreneur and media mogul Ted Turner calls global warming the most dire threat facing humanity, and says that the tycoons of the future will be minted in the development of green, alternative renewable energy. Through Ted Turner's eyes, we consider another way of thinking about the environment, our obligations to help others in need, and the grave challenges threatening the survival of civilization.

For more info or to order "Last Stand: Ted Turner's Quest..." on Amazon.

You May Also Like

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration




spreading disease at home 11 26
Why Our Homes Became COVID Hotspots
by Becky Tunstall
While staying home protected many of us from catching COVID at work, at school, at the shops or…
sudden infanant death syndrum 11 17
How To Protect Your Baby From Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
by Rachel Moon
Each year, about 3,400 U.S. infants die suddenly and unexpectedly while sleeping, according to the…
witchcraft and america 11 15
What Greek Myth Tells Us About Modern Witchcraft
by Joel Christensen
Living on the North Shore in Boston in the fall brings the gorgeous turning of the leaves and…
a man and woman in a kayak
Being in the Flow of Your Soul Mission and Life Purpose
by Kathryn Hudson
When our choices distance us from our soul mission, something inside us suffers. There is no logic…
How Culture Informs The Emotions You Feel To Music
How Culture Informs The Emotions You Feel To Music
by George Athanasopoulos and Imre Lahdelma
I have conducted research in locations like Papua New Guinea, Japan and Greece. The truth is…
grieving for pet 11 26
How to Help Grieve the Loss of a Beloved Family Pet
by Melissa Starling
It’s been three weeks since my partner and I lost our beloved 14.5-year-old dog, Kivi Tarro. It’s…
how to kow if something true 11 30
3 Questions to Ask Whether Something Is True
by Bob Britten
Truth can be tricky to determine. Every message you read, see or hear comes from somewhere and was…
child listening intently wearing headset
Why Certain Types of Music Make Our Brains Sing
by Guilhem Marion
If one presented you with a unknown melody and suddenly stopped it, you could be able to sing the…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.