Increased climate change and global travel and trade activities contribute to the spread of tropical diseases in Europe as well. Some are transmitted by mosquitoes, especially those invasive species of mosquitoes, such as the tiger mosquito. It is native to Southeast Asia, and has spread to many parts of the world, including Europe, North and South America, and Africa. Tiger mosquitoes can transmit dengue, chikungunya, and Zika viruses, among others. Only ten years ago it was discovered in eight European countries, and this year there are already 13.
According to epidemiologist Joseph Chuvada, West Nile fever is becoming more common in both Europe and Slovakia: It is a virus that was also registered in Upper Austria, France and other European countries a few years ago. We also have a small number of patients in 2018 who contracted this virus without having traveled abroad.”
According to virologist Boris Klimba of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, it is difficult to identify the most dangerous mosquito-borne tropical diseases: The course of the disease with Zika virus is fairly mild, but pregnant women are at risk that the virus can harm the fetus. Dengue virus can also cause fatalities, but it is less dangerous as long as only one serotype is present in our region. Chikungunya virus is characteristic of chronic health problems, especially joint pain. The patient may not be able to work in the long term.”
The virologist confirms that there are no vaccines against these viruses except for yellow fever. And it is not easy to diagnose the diseases caused by them, because local doctors rarely treat such diseases. Last but not least, there is a lack of necessary laboratory equipment. According to experts, the best prevention is to fight mosquitoes as larvae in their breeding waters.
Juraj Pavlovich, Photo: AP/TASR