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Eu report:Italia, Slovenia, Albania exposed to dengue fever risk

Eu report:Italia, Slovenia, Albania exposed to dengue fever risk

Caminade (Ictp), 'climate change is the cause'

TRIESTE, 14 marzo 2024, 12:12

Redazione ANSA



by Valeria Pace Due to climate change the risk of tropical disease epidemics is rising in Western countries. The risk is higher in Italy, Slovenia and Albania, countries with the most abundant tiger mosquito populations, which have been endemic in these areas since the 1990s. This is one of the aspects highlighted by the section on Health of the European Climate Risk Assessment (Eucra), the first report compiled by a European Union agency on the risks posed by climate change, published on Monday by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
    As explained to ANSA by Cyril Caminade, a researcher at the Earth Sciences section of the International Center for Theoretical Physics "Abdus Salam" in Trieste (Ictp), one of the authors of the report, who dealt with the rising risks posed by infectious diseases once confined exclusively to tropical areas, "Italy, Slovenia and Albania are home to the most abundant tiger mosquito population, endemic in these areas since the 1990s." The spread of dengue epidemics has already become a real public health concern in Central and South American countries such as Peru, Argentina, Guatemala and Brazil, which have decreed a state of alert or emergency between February and March 2024 (in Italy there have already been 48 cases of dengue this year). Because of climate change, Europe will need to be on high alert for such epidemics.
    Studies by Caminade and his collaborators show that temperatures in southern Europe are already high enough to enable tiger mosquitoes to transmit diseases such as dengue and chikungunya. "In Italy, Slovenia and Albania, tiger mosquitoes will not go away," Caminade pointed out, "Their seasonal activity is lengthening due to climate change and the population itself is growing. These factors, combined with the fact that there are many people traveling to tropical areas, leads to an increase in the spread of dengue and chikungunya," he explained.
    Although "the highest risk to human health posed by climate change" is actually "extreme heat during heat waves," "we need to be on high alert on tropical infectious diseases," given the rapid and "worrisome" increase in the incidence of these diseases: "In the last 10 years we have gone from only 10 cases a year to hundreds, and now we are also counting autochthonous cases," Caminade specified. According to the Ministry of Health, there were 362 cases of dengue in Italy in 2023, 84 of which were autochthonous.
    "The most important action to mitigate risks of dengue fever - a disease which in 80 percent of cases is asymptomatic but can be fatal in case of reinfection with another variant - is to maintain public health surveillance and above all that the population has a high level of awareness of risks and good practices. Also, we need to continue with mosquito population controls" Caminade concluded.


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