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The rise of West Nile virus in Europe: The habitat of infected mosquitoes is expanding due to climate change |  Science and the planet

The rise of West Nile virus in Europe: The habitat of infected mosquitoes is expanding due to climate change | Science and the planet

Climate change was previously suspected to be the cause of the emergence of West Nile virus in Europe, but this has now been confirmed for the first time by researchers from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (VUB) and the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). .

Like malaria, West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. About a quarter of those infected develop symptoms such as fever and headache. Serious neurological complications occur in less than 1 percent.

So far, climate change has been only one of the possible reasons scientists have put forward for their further spread, along with deforestation and increasing population density, for example. But a study published today by VUB and ULB provides more clarity: “Our results point to a key role of climate change in the advance of West Nile virus in southeastern Europe,” explains lead author Diana Erazo.

The habitat of infected mosquitoes is expanding

West Nile virus is a tropical disease that originally appeared near the equator. Climate change is expanding the habitat of infected mosquitoes. “We see a hotspot in the Balkans and the Mediterranean,” says co-author Wim Thierry. “As long as climate change continues, the northward migration of mosquitoes will also shift towards Scandinavia.”

“This is the face of climate change,” says Professor Terry. “In addition to the rise in extreme weather events, the emergence of tropical diseases in Europe is unfortunately one of many logical consequences of our addiction to oil, coal and gas.”

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