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Climate Change Fuels Mosquito-Borne Disease Surge in Europe

Climate Change

Europe is facing a significant surge in cases of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases due to the warming effects of climate change, according to a warning issued by the EU’s health agency on Tuesday.


In 2023, the region encompassing the European Union (EU), along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway (EEA), reported 130 locally acquired cases of dengue, a notable increase from 71 cases in 2022. This rise contrasts sharply with the period from 2010 to 2021, during which only 73 cases were recorded for the entire decade, as highlighted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) based in Stockholm.

Additionally, imported cases of mosquito-borne diseases surged, with 4,900 cases reported in 2023 compared to 1,572 in 2022—the highest figure since EU monitoring commenced in 2008.

ECDC Director Andrea Ammon emphasized the correlation between rising temperatures, milder winters, and the expansion of mosquito habitats into previously unaffected areas, leading to increased disease transmission.

Regarding the West Nile virus, 713 locally acquired cases were reported across nine EU countries in 2023, resulting in 67 fatalities. Although the total number of cases decreased from 1,133 in 2022, the virus spread to 123 different regions—the highest since 2018.

The primary vector for West Nile virus, the Culex pipiens mosquito, is native to Europe and widespread throughout the EU/EEA. Meanwhile, the Aedes albopictus mosquito, responsible for transmitting dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses, has expanded its range northward, eastward, and westward across 13 EU/EEA countries.

Furthermore, the Aedes aegypti species, known for spreading yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, and Zika, has recently established itself in regions like Cyprus, Madeira, and the French Caribbean islands.

The ECDC highlighted the anticipated impact of climate change on the spread of mosquito-borne diseases and stressed the importance of coordinated measures, including insecticidal nets, indoor residual spraying, and community efforts to eliminate stagnant water sources and minimize mosquito exposure.

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