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The worrying rise in dengue fever and what it could mean for the UK

Invasive mosquitoes pose an increasing risk to the UK, a senior goverment scientist tells Andy Gregory

Wednesday 31 May 2023 18:32 BST
Tiger mosquitoes are now widely established across western Europe
Tiger mosquitoes are now widely established across western Europe (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Despite the mosquitoes which carry it rarely venturing more than 100 metres over their short lifespan, more than half the world’s population is at risk of dengue fever.

Also known as “breakbone fever” due to the muscle spasm and joint pain it inflicts, just nine countries had recorded severe dengue outbreaks prior to the 1970s, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

But with experts having “dropped the ball” on mosquito control in that decade, according to ex-WHO chief Margaret Chan, climate change, rapid urbanisation and the increasing interconnectedness of global trade and travel in the years since are said to have created a “perfect storm” for its spread.

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