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Updates to European insect vectors and disease risks.

Posted on 4 December, 2019 at 14:20


 

Recently announcements from Public Health England have highlighted the emergence of tick borne encephalitis cases in the UK and ECDC have raised the awareness of Zika virus in Europe.

 

The impact of global warming has been widely linked with increased temperatures and northern movement of insect vectors as these latitudes increasingly become warmer. The ECDC vector distribution analysis indicates that the mosquito species Aedes albopictus appears to survive better in cooler climates than its cousin A aegyptii. Although not considered as pathogenic as aegyptii, albopictus can still be linked to the provision of diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and zika.

 

The A albopictus distribution highlights a detection in Southern European countries (1), although this not correlate with reported levels of infections. A comparison between the reports of January and August 2019 appear to show very little difference in distribution, indicating that the vector presence may not be seasonal and now is annual.

 

Taking forward the same principle and comparing other insect vectors such as Ixodes, A aegyptii and Phelbotomus then the distribution characteristics can again be shown with a generalised northern movement (2). Again it must be stressed that although the vector is present does not mean that the disease is present and in the absence of vaccinations the protection measures must be the usual insect repellents.

 

One point that travel health practitioners must now need to consider is the pregnant traveller who changes her travel itinerary away from a high risk vector area and decides to travel to a considered potential safer area in Southern Europe?1. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/all-topics-z/disease-vectors/prevention-and-control/vector-distribution-modelling

2. https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/search?s=Aedes+albopictus+distribution

 

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