A mosquito on human skin (illustration)
Photo: Science Photo Library / IMAGO
In view of global warming, the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) calls for exotic diseases to be considered in this country.
"Climate change is leading to an expansion of the habitats for mosquitoes and ticks in Germany," said Lothar Wieler to the newspapers of the Funke media group.
"Many mosquito and tick species can transmit viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens," said Wieler.
As examples he named the Zika, Dengue or West Nile virus as well as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE).
"A return of malaria is also possible." It is therefore important to sensitize the medical profession in this country to these diseases.
"This is also an important concern of the RKI."
The multiplication of viruses in mosquitoes is temperature-dependent, said Wieler - so that higher temperatures over longer periods of time increase the likelihood of infections from mosquito bites.
Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria, and Aedes mosquitoes, which are responsible for dengue, prefer tropical and subtropical climates.
According to WHO data, more than 400,000 people, mostly children, die from malaria every year.
The vast majority of the approximately 230 million cases of infection every year occur in Africa, where new, highly adaptable malaria mosquitoes were registered last year.
The causative agents of the disease, parasites called Plasmodium, are transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes that breed in water, such as puddles.
The health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, also expects that due to the climate-related spread of tick and mosquito populations, diseases will increasingly appear in Europe and Germany "that were previously unknown in our climatic regions".
Ullmann told the Funke media group that one had to react to this development: "Further research and innovation initiatives are urgently needed to better understand the effects of climate change on the spread of pathogens and to take effective measures." The greatest danger with this topic would be "a hostility to science and research".