In July, a fifty-year-old Spaniard who had not visited any endemic countries was diagnosed with the chikungunya virus. Most likely, the infection occurred in his home town. This is not the first time the tropical virus has been transmitted in Europe. A publication in eLIFE shows that the distribution of the transmitting mosquito covers a great part of Europe.
The so-called Aedes albopictus mosquito is often found in southern countries with a warm climate, like Italy, Spain, France and Greece. Therefore, people who acquire a chikungunya infection abroad have a higher risk of transmitting the virus in these areas. This occurred in 2007 in Italy with 205 infections and in 2010 and 2014 in France, where respectively two and eleven people were infected locally.
The research carried out by Oxford University shows that mainly temperature determines which areas become the habitat of Aedes albopictus. When taking into account all requirements, many more European regions seem to be at risk, for example, the south of Germany and the Balkan area. Accordingly, the scientists note that the mosquito is spreading throughout Europe. This may partly be due to the effects of global warming.
Furthermore, the researchers predict that chikungunya transmissions in Europe will occur more and more often. Not only because of the increasing habitat of the mosquito, but because of the substantial amount of travellers visiting endemic areas.
Sources: eLIFE, European Centre for Disease
Prevention and Control
Image: Kraemer et. al.
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