These animals bring pathogens

In the context of climate change, more and more species are becoming native to Germany, which for a long time lived only in southern countries. This includes mosquitoes and ticks. The problem: Diseases transmitted by them also migrate with pests.

For a long time, mosquito bites in Germany were mostly a nuisance – now they are fatal, albeit only in extremely rare cases. It’s been three years since the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported cases of the virus originally from Africa West Nile virus It has been recorded in patients in Germany who are scheduled to move original mosquito is back. One death was recorded for the first time in 2020. It is not yet possible to predict the course of the current season.

In any case, one thing is clear: West Nile virus can now hibernate in mosquitoes in Germany. People can also be infected by Transfusion. The pathogen could soon cause larger seasonal waves of disease. Such outbreaks have been occurring in countries of southern and southeastern Europe for years.

It can be assumed that there have been hundreds of injured in recent years

Since only about one percent of infections result in severe neurological diseases, it can be assumed that hundreds of infections were not recognized in Germany and therefore not recorded due to their mild course. So far, central-eastern Germany including Berlin has been particularly affected, and the infection mainly occurs between mid-July and mid-September. It is possible to expand the affected area from year to year, especially in warmer summers, according to the “Epidemiological Bulletin” issued by the RKI.

“We can show in the lab that viruses in mosquitoes can reproduce faster when temperatures are higher. There is a clear causal relationship with global warming,” says Jonas Schmidt-Schnaset of the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) in Hamburg.

add to that Mosquito species from the tropics and subtropics feel most comfortable in Germany. Experts from the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research (SALF) and the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI) report the occurrence of such new arrivals. “Since 2007, we have discovered five new species of mosquitoes that have settled in Germany,” says Helge Campin of the Institute of Infectious Medicine at FLI.

Mosquitoes carry viruses

In addition to two types that are not considered carriers of pathogens, these are Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) as well Japanese and Korean bush mosquitoes (Aedes japonicus and Aedes koreicus). “Japanese bush mosquitoes have spread widely since 2008. They are now widespread in almost all of southern Germany and are moving further north.”

Bush mosquitoes can transmit pathogens, lab tests show. “But they have not yet been observed as vectors in nature,” explains Campen. On the other hand, the Asian tiger mosquito is an effective carrier of many viruses – there has been no known case so far in Germany.

Among the dangerous pathogens that are not from our domestic mosquito species, but from Aedes mosquito Count can be moved Zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya. “These are three viruses that have already led to human infections in Europe, including our neighboring countries,” Schmidt-Shanset says. In southern France, for example, there have already been several reports of Zika infection caused by tiger mosquitoes found there.

Unlike native mosquitoes, animals often use small water tanks, for example in flowerpot saucers, and are especially common in urban environments such as large cities. For example, the Asian tiger mosquito was recently discovered again in a specialization park in Berlin. The Senate Health Department says there are concerns about a permanent settlement. As with the tiger mosquito, experts also assume that the two species of bush mosquitoes can no longer be eradicated in Germany.

Ticks transmit disease-causing microbes

The second most prevalent worldwide Ticks transmit disease-causing microbes to humans – In Europe they even outnumber mosquitoes. In the context of global warming, ticks are also migrating, which can transmit dangerous diseases. For example, its native habitat is the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa, Asia and southern Europe Hyalomma . tick (Hyaloma ruphips).

The giant tick, which can be up to two centimeters in size, benefits from mild winters and can become infected with such Crimean-Congo fever And the spotted tick fever Transfer. According to analyzes by the University of Hohenheim, almost every second of Hyalomma ticks found in Germany carries the pathogen of spotted fever from ticks. A suspected case has been recorded from 2019 so far, in which a man from North Rhine-Westphalia likely contracted tick fever after being bitten by a Hyalomma tick. No ticks infected with Crimean-Congo fever, which can be associated with fatal bleeding, have been found in this country.

With the migration of species and pathogens, Germany is threatened by new, nasty waves of disease. “We have two factors that annoy us. One is globalization and the other is global warming,” says FLI Expert Campin. In the context of global transportation and travel, many pathogens and disease vectors will be transported to regions where they were not present before.

Some vaccines are still under development

Schmidt-Shanaset says that zoonotic viruses, such as monkeypox or the coronavirus, spread more easily through trade in goods and travel. The effect of global warming on pathogens is still under debate.

Vaccines against pathogens such as the Zika virus are often not yet available. Of course, Schmidt-Shanset says they are in the process of development. “But I don’t suppose we will have an approved vaccine against chikungunya and Zika in the next two or three years.” It is therefore important to professionalize mosquito control in Germany. “There has to be a targeted and sustainable fight against mosquitoes without harming other insects.”

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