ECDC Warns About Arrival In Europe Of Two Mosquitoes That Transmit Dengue And Chikungunya Viruses

Image of Aedes Albopictus - Tiger Mosquito.

Image of Aedes Albopictus - Tiger Mosquito. Credit: Wikipedia - By James Gathany, CDC (PHIL) Public Domain

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned about the increased risk of diseases carried by mosquitoes as a result of heat waves or floods.

Specifically, the ECDC alerted the public back in mid-June 2023 to the increased risk of mosquito-borne diseases in the EU following the spread of the Aedes species of mosquito, or Tiger mosquito as it is commonly called.

A reminder of this problem was published this Monday, July 17, by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

The Aedes albopictus species of mosquito, a known carrier of chikungunya and dengue viruses, is becoming established further north and west in Europe, according to the latest data from ECDC.

Another species, Aedes aegypti, known to transmit dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, Zika and potentially West Nile viruses, has been established in Cyprus since 2022 and may continue to spread to other European countries.

Europe is experiencing a warming trend in which heatwaves and floods are becoming more frequent and severe, and summers are getting longer and hotter.

This creates more favourable conditions for invasive mosquito species such as Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti. Ten years ago, in 2013, the Aedes albopictus mosquito established itself in eight EU/EEA countries, with 114 affected regions. Now in 2023, the mosquito is established in 13 countries and 337 regions.

What is chikungunya

Symptoms of this virus usually begin four to eight days after the mosquito bites a person, although they can appear anytime between day two and day 12, according to a WHO portal.

The most common symptom is a sudden onset of fever, often accompanied by joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. 

Severe joint pain usually lasts a few days, but it can persist for months or even years. Serious complications are rare, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death.

Andrea Ammon, the ECDC Director, explained: ‘In recent years, we have seen a geographic spread of invasive mosquito species to previously unaffected areas in the EU/EEA’.

‘If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases like dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses and, under certain circumstances, West Nile virus. Efforts should focus on ways to control mosquito populations, improve surveillance, and enforce personal protection measures’, she stressed.

Virus cases

In 2022, a total of 1,133 human cases and 92 deaths from West Nile virus infection were reported in the EU/EEA. Of these, 1,112 were locally acquired in 11 countries, the highest number of cases since the peak year of the epidemic in 2018.

Locally acquired cases were reported by Italy (723), Greece (286), Romania (47), Germany (16), Hungary (14), Croatia (8), Austria (6), France (6), Spain ( 4), Slovakia (1), and Bulgaria (1).

71 cases of locally acquired dengue were reported in the continental EU/EEA in 2022, which is equivalent to the total number of cases reported between 2010 and 2021. France (65 cases) and Spain (6 cases) reported cases of locally acquired dengue.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com

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