Health Experts Warn Climate Change Could Bring More Mosquitoes To UK

By @vitthernandez on
The mosquitoes that carry the Chikungunya virus are seen through a magnifying glass at a laboratory in Santo Domingo, May 23, 2014. The painful mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya is spreading quickly through the Caribbean, causing alarm in Haiti and
The mosquitoes that carry the Chikungunya virus are seen through a magnifying glass at a laboratory in Santo Domingo, May 23, 2014. The painful mosquito-borne virus called Chikungunya is spreading quickly through the Caribbean, causing alarm in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas

Mosquitoes are insects endemic to Asian and African nations. But ailments caused by this small insect such as malaria, dengue and West Nile virus could hit Britain within decades because of climate change.

According to health experts, as the weather becomes warmer and there is more rainfall, it would create ideal conditions for the tiger mosquito to breed and expand into the UK, reports Reuters. That breed is the carrier of dengue and chikungunya which has claimed thousands of lives in nations with temperate weather.

There was an outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean in December 2013. At just 13 months, from two cases, the number had soared to over 1.13 million cases in the Caribbean, Latin America and the US.

The study cited a report by the UN in December 2014 that dengue poses a serious threat to big parts of Europe and South America, reports Medicalnewstoday.

Steve Leach from the emergency response department of Public Health England said that lessons learned from the outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean and the West Nile virus in North America highlight the need to assess future vector-borne disease risks and to prepare contingencies for future outbreaks.

There is no vaccine yet for dengue fever, chikungunya and West Nile. During the 2003 outbreak of West Nile in the US, 9,862 people were infected and 264 died.

As it is, Britain is already home to 34 different species of mosquitoes. Although the climate in Britain is already suitable to the transmission of the West Nile virus, there has been zero cases so far, according to the study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Experts project that two-degree Celsius rise in temperature could extend by one month the mosquito season and widen areas in UK suitable for the insects by about one-third of the land by 2030. By 2041, temperature in Britain would be suitable for one month of chikungunya virus transmission in London and up to three months in southeast England by 2071.

To contact the writer, email: v.hernandez@ibtimes.com.au

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