Tropical diseases become more prevalent in Europe

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STOCKHOLM, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Mosquito-borne diseases are becoming increasingly prevalent in Europe, and a record number of Europeans contracted West Nile Fever last summer, Swedish Television (SVT) reported on Friday.

Climate change and globalization have led to an increase in tropical diseases that have previously been limited to warmer regions.

Cases were recorded in Italy, Greece, France and Croatia. Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found as far north as northern Germany and France.

"Italy is now, at times, a tropical country. This benefits the spread of diseases that previously only existed in warmer climates," Jan Semenza of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), told SVT.

Globalization is another major contributing factor. The transportation of people and goods facilitates the spread of disease and the mosquitoes that carry it. An Asian tiger mosquito carrying dengue can spread with products like plants and car tires. It can also be spread by travelers and gain a foothold in areas with favorable conditions.

"We travel to or trade with tropical countries where viruses are present, and thus we transport it home. If the climate is favorable at home, the virus can spread," Semenza told SVT.

Those considering travelling to the Mediterranean this summer have been warned to be careful.

"You should avoid mosquito bites. Use mosquito repellent and do not have the windows wide open," Semensa told SVT.

According to Lakartidningen, a Swedish medical journal, the virus that causes West Nile Fever is spread by the Culex mosquito, which in turn contracts it from infected birds. It can then be passed on to animals and people.

In 80 percent of cases, those who are infected may have no or only mild symptoms. In severe cases, coma, seizures, muscle weakness and paralysis can occur. About one in 150 of those infected become seriously ill.

The ECDC, headquartered in the Swedish capital since 2005, works with health authorities across Europe to fight infectious diseases. Enditem

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