Dengue fever could make headway in popular European holiday destinations if climate change continues on its predicted trajectory, according to research published in open access journal BMC Public Health.
The University of East Anglia study used current data from Mexico, where dengue fever is present, and information about EU countries in order to model the likelihood of the disease spreading in Europe. They found that coastal regions in around the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas, the Po Valley and North East Italy were most at risk.
Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by a virus that is spread by mosquitoes, with symptoms including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain. Each year, dengue infects 50 million people worldwide and causes approximately 12,000 deaths; mostly in South-east Asia and the Western Pacific.
Because the mosquitoes that carry and transmit the virus thrive in warm and humid conditions, it is more commonly found in areas with these weather conditions. Dense populations and global travel are also associated with increasing the spread of the disease, which was observed in the last few decades. Local cases such as those reported in France and Croatia in 2010 clearly show that dengue can be transmitted in Europe, in areas where the mosquito species that carries the virus has established. For this study, the researchers wanted to estimate how likely the disease is to become established in Europe as its climate changes up to the end of the century.