Effect of climate change on vector-borne disease risk in the UK


Medlock JM, Leach SA


During the early part of the 21st century, an unprecedented change in the status of vector-borne disease in Europe has occurred. Invasive mosquitoes have become widely established across Europe, with subsequent transmission and outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya virus. Malaria has re-emerged in Greece, and West Nile virus has emerged throughout parts of eastern Europe. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, continue to increase, or, in the case of tick-borne encephalitis and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever viruses, have changed their geographical distribution. From a veterinary perspective, the emergence of Bluetongue and Schmallenberg viruses show that northern Europe is equally susceptible to transmission of vector-borne disease. These changes are in part due to increased globalisation, with intercontinental air travel and global shipping transport creating new opportunities for invasive vectors and pathogens. However, changes in vector distributions are being driven by climatic changes and changes in land use, infrastructure, and the environment. In this Review, we summarise the risks posed by vector-borne diseases in the present and the future from a UK perspective, and assess the likely effects of climate change and, where appropriate, climate-change adaptation strategies on vector-borne disease risk in the UK. Lessons from the outbreaks of West Nile virus in North America and chikungunya in the Caribbean emphasise the need to assess future vector-borne disease risks and prepare contingencies for future outbreaks. Ensuring that adaptation strategies for climate change do not inadvertently exacerbate risks should be a primary focus for decision makers.


The Lancet Infectious Diseases



Research Themes:

Vector Biology & Climate Modelling