Dengue fever is so clearly not fun that another name for the disease is 'breakbone fever'. Yikes. As you can see below, the symptoms affect almost all parts of the body, including the mind via altered states of consciousness from the fever, and in the most severe cases, can even turn into life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever with gastrointestinal bleeding, blood plasm leakage, and dangerously low blood pressure. Double-yikes!
This isn't just theory to us; a few years ago, a member of the TreeHugger team was struck by dengue and took a long time to recover...
So it's quite bad news that Europe might become dengue territory, at least according to the Swedish researchers who are sounding the alarm. What's happening is that climate change is causing temperatures to rise on the continent, which makes it more hospitable to the Aedes aegypti mosquito (especially southern and central Europe). That oh-so-annoying insect is the primary way that dengue gets around.
No outbreak has occurred in Europe so far, but researchers at the Epidemiology and Global Health unit at Umeå University claim that there is now "good living conditions for the mosquito in Europe" and that it is therefore only a "matter of time before we see an epidemic here."
The problem is in fact so imminent that the researchers say that it's not just an issue for the scientific community to study anymore, but something for policy-makers to prepare to, with preventive measure to combat the disease.
“The last outbreak of dengue in Portuguese Madeira when several thousand became ill, shows that it is no longer a theoretical possibility that the disease can take hold in Europe. It is a reality that can strike at any time,” says Raman Preet, researcher and scientific project manager of the Dengue Tools project at the Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University. “When the disease shows up in Europe it has probably accompanied travellers in areas in the world where the disease is established. Then it will be spread with the help of the Aedes mosquito”.
The areas in red show where there is epidemic dengue and the A. aegypti mosquito species that is the most common vector. The areas in blue show where A. aegypti can be found, but where there is no dengue epidemic (at least for until now).
Via Umeå University