Climate change and the emergence of vector-borne diseases in Europe: Case study of dengue fever

Maha Bouzid, Felipe J Colón-González, Tobias Lung, Iain Lake, Paul Hunter

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Background: Dengue fever is the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral disease worldwide. Dengue transmission is critically dependent on climatic factors and there is much concern as to whether climate change would spread the disease to areas currently unaffected. The occurrence of autochthonous infections in Croatia and France in 2010 has raised concerns about a potential re-emergence of dengue in Europe. The objective of this study is to estimate dengue risk in Europe under climate change scenarios. Methods. We used a Generalized Additive Model (GAM) to estimate dengue fever risk as a function of climatic variables (maximum temperature, minimum temperature, precipitation, humidity) and socioeconomic factors (population density, urbanisation, GDP per capita and population size), under contemporary conditions (1985-2007) in Mexico. We then used our model estimates to project dengue incidence under baseline conditions (1961-1990) and three climate change scenarios: short-term 2011-2040, medium-term 2041-2070 and long-term 2071-2100 across Europe. The model was used to calculate average number of yearly dengue cases at a spatial resolution of 10 × 10 km grid covering all land surface of the currently 27 EU member states. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to model dengue fever risk in Europe in terms of disease occurrence rather than mosquito presence. Results: The results were presented using Geographical Information System (GIS) and allowed identification of areas at high risk. Dengue fever hot spots were clustered around the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas and the Po Valley in northern Italy. Conclusions: This risk assessment study is likely to be a valuable tool assisting effective and targeted adaptation responses to reduce the likely increased burden of dengue fever in a warmer world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number781
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2014


  • Climate Change
  • Europe
  • Disease risk
  • Dengue fever

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