The flight of the West Nile Fever
The example of the "West Nile" virus shows particularly clearly how incredibly fast a mosquito-borne disease can spread geographically. The virus disease, which manifests itself 1-6 days after a mosquito bite with sudden high fever, headache and body aches, was diagnosed in 1937 for the first time in Uganda.
West Nile fever in the USA
In 1999, there was a West Nile fever outbreak among horses and birds in New York, which subsequently also triggered meningitis in humans. Since then, the virus has spread to many US states, where it is endemic, especially in the southern regions. For USA travelers, therefore, a complete mosquito repellent is an absolute must, because there is still no vaccine protection.
Epidemiologists believe that the virus was introduced to the United States with an infected migratory bird, possibly through illegal bird trade. And the virus continues to spread. It has already been proven in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Portugal and France.
Many cases of typical summer flu may be responsible for West Nile fever, the symptoms of which, in mild cases, are indistinguishable from those of influenza. In the US, around 800, 000 people are now infected with the virus every year, of which around 20% are ill.
In many cases, the researchers simply lack the data to prove the so-called "vector-associated" diseases in Germany. This refers to the diseases that are transmitted by insects, ticks or mites - the vectors namely. This applies at least to the tropical diseases, which could soon be set to a much greater extent due to climate change.
In the case of domestic diseases, Lyme disease and early summer encephalitis (TBE), both diseases transmitted by infected ticks, are the focus of the scientists. Just recently, the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin has expanded the number of TBE risk areas in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Although this extension is based on a modified definition, which sets out the criteria under which a district is considered a risk area for early-summer encephalitis. However, the definition change was made to allow better prophylaxis and protect more people from tick bites. Because overall, the number of ticks nationwide increase sharply.
The missing winter 2006/2007 will lead to a tick plague this summer, as the scientists are sure. Those who spend a lot of time outdoors in a tick-risk area should consider vaccination against early-summer encephalitis. On the other hand, only protection against the mosquito bite helps against the other vector-associated diseases.
The spread of the pathogens and their carriers will hardly be preventable, because with every piece of luggage, every car tire, in short with every contact, the exotic malefactors have the opportunity to reach the warmer Europe and survive there. In addition, it is unlikely that the increased risk of infection applies only to the above-mentioned pathogens and diseases.
In principle, this hazard potential applies to all tropical diseases that are transmitted by insects. The transfer options have long been - and the climate change creates the necessary environment. This can only be changed if climate change does not become permanent and temperatures drop again. Whether that happens?