Europe recorded almost as many locally caught cases of dengue in 2022 as it had over the previous 11 years, new figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) show.
There were 71 cases of the disease - which generally causes fever and muscle pain but can be more severe and even sometimes fatal - last year, mainly in France. Between 2010 and 2021, there were 74 cases.
The health agency warned at a press conference on Thursday there is an increasing risk of a number of mosquito-borne diseases in the European region, including dengue, zika, chikungunya and West Nile virus, linked to the changing climate and the spread of mosquitoes carrying the viruses.
“If this continues, we can expect to see more cases and possibly deaths from diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and West Nile fever," said Andrea Ammon, ECDC director. "Efforts need to focus on ways to control mosquito populations, enhancing surveillance and enforcing personal protective measures.”
The agency said that the mosquito species Aedes albopictus, which spreads chikungunya and dengue, was moving further north and west in Europe. Aedes aegypti, which spreads diseases including dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya, became established in Cyprus last year and could make further inroads, it said.
While the rates of some mosquito-borne diseases in Europe have not risen dramatically in recent years or even fallen slightly, such as malaria and zika, others have seen a "striking" rise, particularly dengue, the ECDC said.
Dengue rates are rising globally. This year, the disease was found in the Sudanese capital for the first time, and Peru recently declared a state of emergency in most regions due to a surge in cases.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday about a potential further rise in infections due to the El Nino weather event impacting weather patterns worldwide.