Dengue Fever Could Spread Through Spain and Italy

Climate change and populated areas with high touristic density are some of the factors involved
By Manuela Arte, Epoch Times

MADRID—Popular tourist destinations on the Mediterranean coast of Spain are among European areas at risk of the spread of dengue fever because of climate change, a British study reported this month. 

“We found that the areas with the greatest risk are along the Italian coasts and the Po Valley in Italy, the Spanish Mediterranean, and southern Spain in general,” the report from the University of East Anglia said on August 22. 

“Long-term exposure detected a higher risk of the disease compared to accidental conditions. The frequency rate is expected to raise from two (patients) per 100,000 inhabitants to 10 per 100,000 inhabitants in some places,” according to the document. 

Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.  Fever, headache, and muscle and joint pain are among its symptoms. 

The researchers argue that largely populated areas “are associated with the increase of the disease spreading” as they are related to global travel

“Local cases, such as those reported in France and Croatia in 2010, clearly show that dengue fever can be transmitted in Europe, namely in areas where the type of mosquito that carries the virus has spawned,” the document explained. 

A risk assessment of the transmission of dengue fever by the tiger mosquito, conducted by the Ministry of Health in Spain in May 2013, concluded that domestic cases of the disease had not yet been detected. However, health authorities recognize the presence of the mosquito in the country. 

The authors of the British study noted that changes in the winter-summer climate may change the forecasts for Europe. Very cold winters can stop the mosquito. More tropical weather increases the risk, and estimates of climate change indicate that this will be the trend. 

“Our study has shown that the risk of dengue fever is likely to increase in Europe under climate change.  However, the higher risk areas are the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic seas, and the northeastern part of Italy, especially on the Po Valley”, Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School said. 

Professor Hunter makes it clear that “the exact incidence of dengue fever depends on several factors, some of which we are not able to find at this stage. However, public health agencies in high-risk areas need to plan, implement, and evaluate active information on mosquito populations and clinical monitoring by local doctors. ” 

Read the original article in Spanish here.

 *Image of “tiger mosquito” via Shutterstock