Climate change is expected to impact widely upon human health through extreme weather events and air pollution. Additionally the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases is predicted to alter through differences in the distribution and breeding seasons of vector species (such as mosquitoes) in response to climate change.
The Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) is of particular interest with respect to climate change as it is projected to experience greater changes than average global estimates. EMME also borders regions where many vector-borne diseases are endemic, and historically it has been devastated by emerging and resurgent vector-borne diseases.
Endemic transmission by mosquitoes of Dengue (DENV) and West Nile viruses typically occurs in some of the EMME countries. However, in the last few years, an unusually high number of notifications of vector-borne diseases were reported in South Europe, including local transmission of mosquito transmitted viruses. Of particular interest is Chikungunya that is transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, a highly invasive species that is rapidly spreading across Europe. This mosquito can also transmit many other diseases, including Dengue, which devastated the EMME region and South Europe in the past. Cyprus remains a high-risk area for Ae. albopictus establishment, although no specific surveillance of these mosquitoes has been carried out.
The threat to human health posed by mosquito transmitted viruses, coupled with a drive in the scientific community to map the current presence of Ae. albopictus and develop knowledge of both mosquito/pathogen biology, has led to the current project, which is focused on developing tools to predict the likelihood of Ae. albopictus-borne viral disease transmission in the EMME as a function of projected climate change. These tools will be invaluable for focusing both vector surveillance and control strategies, and health programmes in the region.
The Project YGEIA/DYGEIA/0311(BIE)/13 is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research Promotion Foundation