CREDIT ECDC: Yellow Areas = Recent Introduction Of Aedes Albopictus
Although one doesn’t traditionally think of vector-borne diseases like Malaria, Leishmaniasis, Crimea-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and Malaria as being serious public health concerns for Europe, increasingly the arthropod vectors (mosquitoes, ticks, sand flies) for these diseases are showing up and establishing themselves across the region.
In 2007, Europe got a major wake-up call when a rare, tropical virus called Chikungunya arrived (via a traveler returning from India) in the province of Ravenna, in the northeast of Italy. While the virus isn't normally found in Europe, the vector, the Aedes mosquito, is (see It's A Smaller World After All).
All it took was one infected person to arrive with the virus, and the chain of transmission began, ultimately infecting nearly 300 people.
Since then, we’ve seen a procession of studies suggesting that Europe is increasingly becoming a suitable environment for many of these vector borne diseases to spread. In 2010 the journal Eurosurveillance devoted an entire issue to The Threat Of Vector Borne Diseases, with perhaps the biggest threat outlined in Yellow fever and dengue: a threat to Europe? by P Reiter (excerpt below).
The history of dengue and yellow fever in Europe is evidence that conditions are already suitable for transmission. The establishment of Ae. albopictus has made this possible, and the possibility will increase as the species expands northwards, or if Ae. aegypti is re-established.
In 2011, in ECDC: Local Malaria Acquisition In Greece we saw more reasons for concern with the return of a scourge that had – due to diligent mosquito control measures over the past 50 years – been all but eliminated across Europe.
While southern Europe has always been slightly vulnerable, just last October, in WHO: Locally Acquired Chikungunya In France, we saw another example of autochthonous transmission of a formerly tropical disease, this time in a Central European nation.
In 2012 the ECDC released a cautionary report on the Status & Importance Of Invasive Mosquito Breeds In Europe and last summer they announced a new joint ECDC-EFSA project called “VectorNet”. A network for sharing data on the geographic distribution of arthropod vectors capable of transmitting human and animal diseases.
Today the ECDC has published a series of updated maps showing the distribution of a variety of mosquito, tick, and sandfly species capable of transmitting diseases. As you will see as you examine the maps, some of these vectors are making substantial inroads across parts of Europe.
04 Aug 2015
New information on the geographical distribution of ticks and invasive mosquitoes in Europe is made available through the latest vector maps. The maps, which are updated quarterly, show the latest data on the geographical distribution of tick, phlebotomines and exotic mosquito species in Europe, as of July 2015.
What’s new in the tick maps?
New information on the geographical distribution (presence/absence) has been added to the Dermacentor reticulatus, Hyalomma marginatum, Ixides ricinus maps:
- Dermacentor reticulatus: updated information about 61 administrative units, mainly in Germany, France and Spain.
- Hyalomma marginatum: updated information about 35 administrative units, primarily in Romania.
- Ixodes ricinus: updated information about 366 administrative units, mainly in Finland, Germany and Poland.
In addition, the new maps show the presence of tick species in Europe in greater detail. The maps on Hyalomma marginatum - a tick species which can transmit serious diseases such as Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF), now distinguish between introduction and establishment: a new category ‘introduced’ describes the presence of imported ticks and indicates that the species has been found but there is no evidence that it has become established locally.
New areas with invasive mosquitoes in southern Europe
Two invasive mosquito species, important disease vectors, have been found in new areas in southern Europe:
- The mosquito species Aedes albopictus, a potential vector of dengue and chikungunya, is now present in new areas in northern and southern Spain, along the Mediterranean coast.
- The new maps show that Aedes koreicus, a mosquito that can transmit Japanese encephalitis, has been introduced around the Black Sea, while there is no evidence yet of the establishment of the species.
The maps are the outcome of the collaborative work of VectorNet and are based on collecting existing data by the network members. VectorNet is a joint initiative of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), that started in May 2014. The project supports the collection of data on vectors, related to both animal and human health.
See and download latest maps on vector distribution (updated July 2015):