Climate change to up cases of tropical diseases like malaria and dengue, RKI warns
The president of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s federal institute for disease prevention and control, has warned that hotter temperatures resulting from climate change could lead to a rise in tropical disease cases in Germany.
RKI president warns of rise in tropical disease cases
Lothar Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has warned that extended periods of hot, dry weather increase the risk of tropical diseases spreading throughout the country.
Wieler told the Funke Media Group that soaring temperatures are allowing mosquitos and ticks to expand their habitats further into Germany. "Many mosquito and tick species can transmit viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens," he said in an interview. Wieler explained that this could not only mean an increase in the spread of viruses like zika, dengue, the West Nile virus, and early summer meningoencephalitis (FSME), but even malaria.
Virus reproduction in mosquitos depends on the temperature, so extended periods of hot weather increases the likelihood of infection following a mosquito bite. Wieler has called for better awareness of tropical diseases within the healthcare system and among the public: “This is also an important concern for the RKI," he said.
On the other hand, more regular and extreme flooding of Germany's rivers will also increase the spread of diseases like West Nile virus as bad flood risk management structure introduce mosquito populations into urban areas.
Further research necessary
German doctor and SPD Bundestag member Andrew Ullmann also expects tropical diseases “that were previously unknown in our climatic regions” to become more prevalent in Europe and Germany.
Further research and innovation initiatives are necessary to better understand the effects of climate change on the spread of pathogens and to take effective measures," Ullman told the Funke Media Group.