Continent’s changing climate raises fears that dengue fever could come to South of England
An Asian mosquito that can transmit potentially dangerous tropical diseases could soon become established in southern England, according to scientists who have mapped changes to Europe’s climate over the past 50 years.
The Asian tiger mosquito has already invaded large parts of Italy, Spain, southern France and the Balkans, as well as establishing itself as far north as The Netherlands, possibly as a result of the international trade in ornamental house plants.
It has caused several outbreaks of mosquito-borne infections such as dengue fever and chikungunya fever, and experts fear that it could become established in other parts of northern Europe, including southern England, where it could survive year-round in milder winters.
The Asian mosquito, Aedes albopictus, breeds in water-filled tree holes and was initially restricted to south-east Asia. But in recent years it has travelled to other parts of the world either as a result of the international trade in used car tyres, which can carry its eggs inside the water-filled rim, or lucky bamboo, a house plant transported in water-filled pots.
Computer simulations of how the climate in Europe has changed over the past half-century and of how it is likely to change in the coming decades suggest that conditions across wider areas of northern Europe will become more favourable for the mosquito, says a study by scientists from Liverpool University and the Government’s Health Protection Agency.