Climate Change Drives Surge in Dengue Cases Across Europe

Climate Change Drives Surge in Dengue Cases Across Europe | Healthcare 360 Magazine


The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported a significant increase surge in dengue cases within the European Union, highlighting the impact of climate change on public health. Last year, there were 130 locally acquired cases of surge in dengue in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA), a stark rise from the mere 71 cases recorded over the previous decade from 2010 to 2021. Dengue, characterized by high fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and rash, is increasingly affecting regions that had previously seen little to no incidence of the disease.

This alarming trend is attributed to climate change, which has fostered environmental conditions conducive to the proliferation of mosquitoes, the primary carriers of dengue. These conditions have allowed the insects to thrive and expand into new territories across Europe, thereby increasing the surge in dengue risk of infection among the population.

West Nile Virus Also On the Rise

In addition to surge in dengue, the ECDC has raised concerns over the spread of the West Nile virus, another mosquito-borne illness. In 2023, nine EU countries reported 713 locally acquired cases of the virus, resulting in 67 deaths. Although this number is lower than the 1,133 cases documented the previous year, the ECDC remains worried about the virus’s extensive geographical reach. Notably, some regions experienced infections for the first time, underscoring the expanding range of mosquito populations facilitated by climate change.

A case of West Nile virus was identified in Seville, Spain, as early as March this year, marking an unusually early start to the transmission season. This early detection highlights the growing threat posed by changing environmental conditions, which are enabling mosquitoes to become active and spread diseases sooner than previously observed.

ECDC Urges Comprehensive Response

Andrea Ammon, the outgoing director of the ECDC, emphasized the urgent need for a multifaceted approach to address the increasing threat of mosquito-borne diseases in Europe. “Europe is already seeing how climate change is creating more favourable conditions for invasive mosquitoes to spread into previously unaffected areas and infect more people with diseases such as dengue,” Ammon stated.

Ammon stressed the importance of implementing personal protective measures, vector control strategies, early case detection, timely surveillance, continued research, and awareness-raising activities. These combined efforts are crucial for mitigating the risk in the most vulnerable areas across Europe. As climate change continues to alter ecosystems, it is imperative to enhance public health preparedness and response to curb the spread of these surge in dengue diseases.

The ECDC’s findings underscore the interconnectedness of climate change and public health, urging European nations to adopt proactive measures to protect their populations from the growing threat of mosquito-borne illnesses.

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