Policy ForumPUBLIC HEALTH

Monitoring EU Emerging Infectious Disease Risk Due to Climate Change

Science  27 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6080, pp. 418-419
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215735

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Summary

In recent years, we have seen transmission of traditionally “tropical” diseases in continental Europe: chikungunya fever (CF) in Italy in 2007, large outbreaks of West Nile fever in Greece and Romania in 2010, and the first local transmission of dengue fever in France and Croatia in 2010 (13). These events support the notion that Europe is a potential “hot spot” for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) (4). Major EID drivers that could threaten control efforts in Europe include globalization and environmental change (including climate change, travel, migration, and global trade); social and demographic drivers (including population aging, social inequality, and life-styles); and public health system drivers (including antimicrobial resistance, health care capacity, animal health, and food safety) (5, 6). Climate change is expected to aggravate existing local vulnerabilities by interacting with a complex web of these drivers (6). For example, increases in global trade and travel, in combination with climate change, are foreseen to facilitate the arrival, establishment, and dispersal of new pathogens, disease vectors, and reservoir species.