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article imageDisease carrying mosquitoes could reach the U.K.

By Tim Sandle     Mar 23, 2015 in Health
Mosquitoes carrying "tropical diseases" could become widespread across the U.K. over the next 20 or 30 years. This is assuming that European temperatures continue to rise.
Mosquitoes that can transmit infections once confined to equatorial regions reached parts of southern and eastern Europe. A new study, based on computer modeling and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, predicts that mosquitoes carrying various diseases could reach the U.K. within decades. The reasons are, the report concludes, due to climatic changes and changes in land use, infrastructure, and the environment.
The diseases that are carried include dengue fever and chikungunya. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles. Chikungunya is an infection caused by the chikungunya virus. It features sudden onset fever usually lasting two to seven days, and joint pains typically lasting weeks or months but sometimes years.
The U.K. climate is already suited for mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus, although there have been no reported cases. West Nile virus can cause mild flu-like symptoms, such as headaches, muscle aches and a high temperature (fever).
Commenting on the risks, Professor Steve Leach, from the emergency responses department at Public Health England and lead author of the research, said in a statement: "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."
Leach added: "Lessons from the outbreaks of West Nile virus in North America and chikungunya in the Caribbean emphasise the need to assess future vector-borne disease risks and prepare contingencies for future outbreaks."
The new research is titled: "Effect of climate change on vector-borne disease risk in the UK."
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