Tropical infectious diseases, transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, are increasingly common in regions with a mild climate like Europe, due to climate change and globalization, alerted several European scientists on Sunday.
At the European conference on Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), which brings together 13,500 doctors and scientists from 127 countries since yesterday in Amsterdam, they warned about the spread of conditions such as dengue fever, chikungunya, sandfly disease. (leishmaniasis) and the tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBE).
These diseases were until now in European countries only as "imported affections": travelers were infected in tropical countries and brought back home.
However, that is changing, especially in the Mediterranean region, such as Spain and Italy, which are becoming tropical regions during part of the year, having a habitat prone for these flies and ticks.
According to Giovanni Rezza, director of infectious diseases at the Instituto Superiore di Sanitá, the insects that can transmit these and other diseases are "thriving" in areas where they did not exist before and this is due to the fact that these regions have longer periods of weather warm, winters less cold and periods of ample drought.
Some parts of southern Germany and Switzerland are not immune to the threat either: "A combination of factors makes the climate more suitable for the tiger mosquito, but in Italy and Spain it already abounds and these are countries where we go a lot of vacation" , alerted the Dutch biologist Arnold van Vliet, from the University of Wageningen.
In the last decade, there have been a series of outbreaks of dengue and especially of chikungunya in the Mediterranean countries, the scientists recalled, noting the cases of 2007 and 2017 in Italy, where hundreds of patients were affected, which " it had a lot to do with long, hot and humid summers, "Rezza added.
Small outbreaks of these diseases have also been recorded on the coast of southern France, in Croatia, on the Portuguese island of Madeira and in Greece, where there was an outbreak of malaria in 2011 and 2012, they added.
"Climate change plays an important role in the spread of tropical infectious diseases to areas with a temperate climate, but travel and increased globalization (including trade) are even more important," warned Jan Semenza, of the European organization. of health institutions (ECDC).
The scientists demanded that government agencies map mosquito habitats and warn of the dangers posed by their bites, including socioeconomic, climate and prevention measures to anticipate outbreaks.