Subject: Public health
Rising incidences of a growing list of tick and mosquito borne diseases such as Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever and even Malaria are “a serious” cause for concern in this country, according to health experts meeting at the annual public health conference of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) in Cardiff on 8/9 May.
The conference will be told that it would be complacent to think that diseases that are now present on the European continent and were once considered “exotic and confined to far away places” like Dengue Fever, Malaria and Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic fever will not emerge in the UK.
The facts speak for themselves.
In the US, West Nile Virus was first detected in Queens New York in 1999, but has now spread across the entire country, with a major outbreak occurring in 2012. As of 30 August 2012, 115 human cases of West Nile Virus had been reported in the EU (from Greece, Italy and Romania) and 224 cases in neighbouring countries and it has been diagnosed in countries as close to the UK as the Republic of Ireland.
In the UK, previously rare diseases are being diagnosed with increasing frequency. In 2001 there were 200 confirmed cases of Lyme disease, tick and mosquito borne diseases . By 2011 this had risen to 959 confirmed cases (HPA statistics). This figure could be higher as Lyme disease requires a clinical diagnosis and its symptoms (rashes, flu like symptoms) could mimic other illnesses and therefore may be misdiagnosed.
Lyme disease is caused by infected ticks and can cause symptoms from a rash to blindness and paralysis. The conference will examine what measures the UK governments and public health officials need to take assess and address the potential public health threats from emerging pest borne diseases.”
Speaking ahead of the conference, Julie Barratt, Director of CIEH, said:
“With predicted changes to climate in the UK characterised with warming and wetter summers providing perfect breeding grounds for a number of pest borne diseases, we need to consider some robust public health measures to minimise the potential outbreaks.
“Pests will become a very serious public health issue in the UK as a result of climate change. The spread of West Nile Virus in the US and Lyme disease in Europe are warning signals of the impact of pests on public health.
“Modern living conditions, urban sprawl and emerging changes in climate make the spread of pests and pest-borne diseases increasingly likely. The effects of these conditions and changes need to be properly monitored and understood. We should not wait for an outbreak to happen before we act.”
- Implement an EU-wide policy on mosquito control. It is necessary to intensify international and European collaboration at legislative and executive levels
- Notification systems across Europe should be standardised and notifications reported to a central agency
- Harmonisation of mosquito control practices to reduce harm to the environment. EU guidelines for insecticides should be harmonised between member states
- Enhanced human and veterinary surveillance activities will assist public health authorities to implement control measures at source
- The general population, especially in the affected areas, should be informed about the typical presentation of the disease and vector control strategies, particularly in the domestic environment
In order to improve environmental health and prevent tick and mosquito borne diseases it is recommended that businesses in the catering and food preparation business fit flyscreen windows and flyscreen doors to any areas which may open to the external environment.
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