Climate change is expected to significantly impact human health through extreme weather events and air pollution. Additionally, the epidemiology of vector-borne diseases is predicted to change, through differences in the distribution and breeding seasons of vector species (such as mosquitoes) in response to climate warming.
The region of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (EMME) is of particular interest with respect to climate change as it is projected to experience greater changes than globally averaged. EMME also borders regions where many vector-borne diseases are endemic, and historically it has been devastated by emerging and resurgent vector-borne diseases.
Endemic transmission by mosquitoes of Dengue (DENV) and West Nile viruses typically occurs in some of the EMME countries. However, in the last few years, an unusually high number of notifications of vector-borne diseases were reported in South Europe, including local transmission of mosquito transmitted viruses. Of particular interest is chikungunya that is transmitted by the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, a highly invasive species that is rapidly spreading across Europe. This mosquito can also transmit many other diseases, including Dengue, which devastated the EMME region and South Europe in the past. Cyprus remains a high-risk area for Ae. Albopictus establishment, although no specific surveillance of these mosquitoes has been carried out.
The threat to human health posed by mosquito transmitted viruses, coupled with a drive in the scientific community to map the current presence of Ae. albopictus and develop knowledge of both mosquito/pathogen biology, has motivated this project, which focused on developing tools to predict the likelihood of Ae. albopictus-borne viral disease transmission in the EMME as a function of projected climate change. These tools will be invaluable for focusing both vector surveillance and control strategies, and health programmes in the region.
The Project YGEIA/DYGEIA/0311(BIE)/13 is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research Promotion Foundation
Summary of Results:
As a part of this project, a mosquito surveillance study was carried out in Cyprus assessing the potential establishment of invasive mosquito species (IMS) in the island. During surveillance activities in 2013 and 2014, no invasive species of interest were found; however, Aedes caspius, Culex pipiens and Culex torrentium were morphologically identified. This finding necessitates pathogen screening for these species to assess the presence of any disease-causing arboviruses transmitted by them. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time Culex torrentium was reported present in Cyprus.
A modelling framework was developed comprising (i) literature review and model building, (ii) parameterisation and validation, and (iii) performing large-scale projections using the model and current/future predicted meteorological data. This was sufficiently generic to allow extension to many kinds of vector-pathogen dynamics, and it has been successfully applied to investigate environmental dependence of Aedes albopictus population dynamics and chikungunya transmission and epidemiology. The resulting risk maps indicate a strong movement of risk and severity of chikungunya outbreaks towards north-western Europe, reaching the UK, Netherlands, Sweden and Finland in the course of the 21st century.
To enable public access to the findings of this research, The Cyprus Institute has developed an online interactive risk-assessment tool for global monitoring of current and future risks of tiger mosquito. The tool is available at http://vbd.cyi.ac.cy and is updated regularly with improved predictions and global surveillance data.
The effect of climate change on the risk of chikungunya in Europe. The maps present the risk of outbreak (a,c,e) and the potential burden of a possible outbreak (b,d,f) calculated for the recent past (2000-2009), and projected for the near future (2045-2054) and the end of century (2080-2099).
Waldock, J., Parham, P. E., Lelieveld, J., Christophides, G. K. (2013). Climate and Human Health: The Impact of Climate Change on Vector-Borne Diseases, Paphos, Cyprus (17–19 October 2012). Pathogens and Global Health, 107(8), pp. 387–392.
Waldock, J., Chandra, N. L., Lelieveld, J., Proestos, Y., Michael, E., Christophides, G., and Parham, P. E. (2013). The role of environmental variables on Aedes albopictus biology and chikungunya epidemiology. Pathogens and Global Health, 107 (5) pp. 1-19.
Proestos, Y., Christophides, G. K., Erguler, K., Tanarte, M., Waldock, J., Lelieveld, J. (2015). Present and future projections of habitat suitability of the Asian tiger mosquito, a vector of viral pathogens, from global climate simulation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 370 20130554; DOI:10.1098/rstb.2013.0554. Published 16 February 2015.
Erguler K., Smith-Unna S. E., Waldock J., Proestos Y., Christophides G. K., Lelieveld J., Parham P. E. (2016). Large-Scale Modelling of the Environmentally-Driven Population Dynamics of Temperate Aedes albopictus (Skuse).PLoS One, 2016 Feb 12;11(2):e0149282. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149282. eCollection 2016.
- AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, CA, USA (15-19 December 2014)
- 19th European SOVE Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece. (13-17 October 2014)
- EMCA 2015 Conference, Valencia, Spain. (23-26 February 2015)
- GERI 2015 Conference, Heraklion, Greece (21-23 April 2015)
- 2015 Mosquito Kolymbari meeting, Greece (24-29 July 2015)
- Invited lecture at the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT), Lemessos (19 March 2015)
Tel. +357 22208700
Tel. +357 22208651
- Acronym: CIVMME
- Website: CIVMME Website
- Center: EEWRC
- Funding Source: Research Promotion Foundation (RPF)
- CyI Funding: 174.489€
- Funding Period: 30 months
- Starting Date: September 2012
- End Date: February 2015
- Coordinator: The Cyprus Institute
Department of Medical and Public Health Services (Ministry of Health), Imperial College London