Fever Outbreak in Italy Linked to Climate Change

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2

(Related story: Climate Change Spurring Dengue Rise, Experts Say [September 21, 2007])

"Dengue would certainly be more worrying than chikungunya," said Denis Coulombier, the ECDC's head of preparedness and response. "It is something we need to keep an eye on, because the possibility is there."

Most scientists think Europe's advanced health systems and high living standards will help avert widespread disease. Malaria was once endemic in much of Europe but disappeared once the swamps that bred mosquitoes were replaced by buildings, and medicines to treat malaria became widely available.

But development doesn't deter all mosquitoes. Certain species prefer artificial breeding sites like rain-filled gutters and plastic containers. "If the climate gets suitable enough, then even very high living standards won't necessarily protect you," said WHO's Campbell-Lendrum.

Next Spring

Although Italy's chikungunya outbreak has been contained, "the big question is what is going to happen in the spring next year," said Coulombier.

Other European countries should pay attention: France also saw a few dozen cases of chikungunya last year.

"Italy is not the only country that needs to prepare for another outbreak," said Evelyn Depoortere, a chikungunya expert at the European Centre. "Southern European countries around the Adriatic coast like Greece, France, and Spain are also at risk."

As long as temperatures keep rising, health officials say, disease detection and response systems need to be reinforced.

"Climate change is one more factor pushing us in the direction of more disease," said Campbell-Lendrum. "With warmer weather, it is very likely we will have diseases popping up in Europe that no one had ever expected to see."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Free Email News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2


ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.