Monday, October 22, 2012

In vulnerable Greece, mosquitoes bite back

Kate Kelland in Reuters: Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe.

And with austerity budgets, a collapsing health system, political infighting and rising xenophobia all conspiring to allow pest and disease control measures here to slip through the net, the mosquitoes are biting back.

Already malaria, a disease eliminated from Greece in 1974, is not just returning with visitors and migrants - as it does from time to time in the rest Europe - but is being transmitted from person to person within Greek borders. This year's death toll from West Nile Virus, a disease spread by Culex modestus mosquitoes, stood at 16 on October 11.

It's a sign of the times that Medecins Sans Frontiers, a global medical charity more usually associated with the fight to save lives of babies in sub-Saharan Africa, is now working full time in parts of southern Greece....

The Parthenon, shot by Tormod, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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