Modelling recent and future climatic suitability for fasciolosis in Europe
Caminade C, van Dijk J, Baylis M, Williams D
Fasciola hepatica is a parasitic worm responsible for fasciolosis in grazed ruminants in Europe. The free-living stages of this parasite are sensitive to temperature and soil moisture, as are the intermediate snail hosts the parasite depends on for its life-cycle. We used a climate-driven disease model in order to assess the impact of recent and potential future climate changes on the incidence of fasciolosis and to estimate the related uncertainties at the scale of the European landmass. The current climate appears to be highly suitable for fasciolosis throughout the European Union with the exception of some parts of the Mediterranean region. Simulated climatic suitability for fasciolosis significantly increased during the 2000s in central and north-western Europe, which is consistent with an observed increased in ruminant infections. The simulation showed that recent trends are likely to continue in the future with the estimated pattern of climate change for northern Europe, possibly extending the season suitable for development of the parasite in the environment by up to four months. For southern Europe, the simulated burden of disease may be lower, but the projected climate change will increase the risk during the winter months, since the simulated changes in temperature and moisture support the development of the free-living and intra-molluscan stages between November and March. In the event of predicted climate change, F. hepatica will present a serious risk to the health, welfare and productivity of all ruminant livestock. Improved, bespoke control programmes, both at farm and region levels, will then become imperative if problems, such as resistance of the parasite associated with increased drug use, are to be mitigated.
Vector Biology & Climate Modelling