Mosquito bites laden with tropical diseases could become a common occurrence in the United Kingdom due to climate change, claim experts.
Vector-borne infections once confined to equatorial regions are appearing in parts of Europe. A new study predicts mosquito transmitted diseases of the tropics such as dengue fever and chikungunya, will be arriving in the U.K over the coming years.
The warmer climate and abundance of rain water in the United Kingdom attracts mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. A species of Culex mosquito known to be the main carrier of West Nile Virus in Europe was discovered in Kent recently.
The Herald Scotland reports: A bigger threat is the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) which spreads dengue fever and chikungunya. Both cause serious illnesses, which especially in the case of dengue fever can be fatal.
Warmer temperatures and more rainfall – both outcomes of climate change – could provide ideal conditions for the mosquito in the UK, said the scientists. Previously, dengue transmission was largely confined to tropical and sub-tropical regions because frosts kill the insect’s larvae and eggs.
The Asian tiger mosquito has now been reported in 25 different European countries and is widely established in large parts of the Mediterranean. It has also been imported into the Netherlands, where the insect has been found in commercial greenhouses and its eggs and larvae in water trapped inside the rims of used tyres.
Climate change models show that just a 2C rise in temperature could extend the mosquito’s activity season by one month and geographical spread by up to 30 per cent by 2030, said the researchers writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.
Professor Steve Leach, writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, said: “We are not suggesting that climate change is the only or the main factor driving the increase in vector-borne diseases in the UK and Europe, but that it is one of many factors including socio-economic development, urbanisation, widespread land-use change, migration, and globalisation that should be considered.
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