Vets have been urged to prepare for an uncertain future of new and emerging disease risks as environmental changes are likely to result in the arrival of vector-borne diseases previously unseen in the UK.
Climate change could lead to the emergence of new threats from vector-borne canine diseases in the UK.
Predicted rises in temperature, variations in humidity levels and environmental changes are likely to result in the arrival of a range of vector-borne diseases endemic in Europe, but not currently seen in the UK.
However, the exact nature and scale of those threats remains uncertain, according to Eric Morgan, a senior lecturer in veterinary parasitology and ecology at the University of Bristol.
Dr Morgan urged vets to prepare for an uncertain future of new and emerging disease risks.
He said: “Many factors affect the capacity of a vector to spread disease and climate affects a number of them. Biting rate and meal size could be related to metabolic rate in vectors, incubation period, survival rate and dispersal rate. So it is entirely logical to expect climate change to affect vector-borne disease.”
Among other examples, Dr Morgan spoke about Diroﬁ laria immitis (heartworm), which spreads via mosquito bite. The parasite is found in southern Europe, but predicted rises in temperature could see it spread into northern Europe and the UK.
He said: “There are climate predictions that show we will have one year in ﬁve that will be warm enough for [heartworm] transmission in northern Europe – and that includes a surprising chunk of Great Britain.”
Dr Morgan also explained how Lyme disease (borreliosis) has been on the increase and this could be due to milder winters and wetter summers, which provide perfect conditions for ticks to latch onto host species.
- For the full article by reporter James Westgate, see this week’s Veterinary Times (Vol.43, No.21)