Disease-carrying insects are finding new places to
call home, according to new research. A Royal Society
special issue finds that as the climate warms,
traditionally tropical insects are spreading to more temperate
regions, including the UK and Europe.
The UK could play host to a black and white-striped
insect known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito by the middle of the
one paper finds.
Times reported today:
"Yellow fever and dengue
threaten to reach Britain as climate change makes the country more
hospitable to a mosquito that carries an arsenal of exotic
diseases, a study warns."
But it's important not to overreact, the scientists
involved tell Carbon Brief. While new health risks need careful
monitoring, a public-health emergency isn't on the cards in the
New, unfamiliar territory
Disease-carrying insects, such as mosquitoes and
ticks, respond very quickly to changes in their surroundings.
Dr Paul Parham, expert in health and public policy at the
University of Liverpool and
organiser of the special issue, explains:
"The behaviour of disease
vectors, such as mosquitoes, is known to be very sensitive to
temperature and rainfall, for example, so it seems
unquestionable that climate change will affect many, if not all, of
these diseases. "
As new habitat becomes suitable and the insects expand
their geographical ranges, scientists expect the UK could be
exposed to new diseases. Parham tells Carbon Brief:
"Based on the latest modelling
studies ... it appears that the UK (and other areas of northern
Europe) will become slightly more suitable for one of the key
vectors of dengue and chikungunya, possibly by up to around 20 per
cent over the next few decades."
Habitat suitability for the Asian Tiger mosquito
expressed as the increase between 2000-2009 and 2045-2054 (a) North
America and (b) Europe. Source: Proestos et al. (