Russia warned on Monday of a possible increase in West Nile virus infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation create favourable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.
Originally from Africa, the virus has spread to Europe, Asia and North America. It is mainly transmitted through mosquito bites and can lead to a fatal neurological disease in humans, although most people infected never develop any symptoms.
Scientists have said that milder temperatures attributed toclimate change could cause diseases such as the West Nile virus to become more widespread.
“In light of favourable climatic conditions this year – anabundance of precipitation… a warm and long autumn, a high number of (virus) carriers could be observed in the autumn,” Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s consumer health watchdog, said.
The virus causes West Nile fever in around 20% of cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said. It is related to Zika, dengue and yellow fever viruses.
More than 80% of Russia’s West Nile fever cases are recorded in its southwest region.
There is no vaccine against the virus in humans although one exists for horses, the WHO says.