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Mosquito-borne diseases in Europe: an emerging public health threat

Authors Calzolari M

Received 9 June 2015

Accepted for publication 10 November 2015

Published 19 February 2016 Volume 2016:5 Pages 1—12


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Manuel Rodriguez Valle

Mattia Calzolari

Medical and Veterinary Entomology Laboratory, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell'Emilia Romagna “B. Ubertini”, Reggio Emilia, Italy

Abstract: Mosquito-borne pathogens cause some of the more deadly worldwide diseases, such as malaria and dengue. Tropical countries, characterized by poor socioeconomic conditions, are more exposed to these diseases, but Europe is experiencing an increasing number of human cases of mosquito-borne diseases, both imported and indigenous. Some of these cases are due to recrudescence of pathogens already present in the territory, particularly the West Nile virus. However, other neglected mosquito-borne pathogens remain present in Europe, and could produce human cases sustained by local mosquitoes (such as the Tahyna and Sindbis viruses). Native mosquitoes are still able to transmit pathogens eliminated from Europe and reimported by the sick (such as malaria plasmodia), as well as new imported pathogens. An increasing number of large epidemics involving arboviruses, for which humans could be reservoir hosts (eg, Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, and Zika virus), seasonally concordant with the activity period of European vectors, poses an expanding risk for potential introduction of these viruses. More autochthonous cases of exotic diseases were reported in Europe, including dengue and chikungunya, raising the potential for the establishment of those pathogens which can be transmitted vertically in vectors. These episodes were often responsible for the establishment of exotic mosquitoes, such as tiger mosquito, imported into Europe by trade and now present in adequate numbers to transmit these pathogens. This actually occurred for chikungunya in Italy in 2007, with more than 200 cases of this disease. Other mosquitoes, potentially vectors of pathogens, can use the same means of entry into Europe, posing new potential risks for health. Dealing with mosquito-borne pathogens, characterized by a complex cycle, will require the establishment of interdisciplinary measures and an internationally coordinated approach, since these diseases do not recognize borders.

Keywords: malaria, arbovirus, Tahyna virus, Sindbis virus, West Nile virus, Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus

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