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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 8

The effects of climate change: Spreading of zoonotic arthropod-borne diseases in Europe

Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, Viale delle Piagge 2; Centre for Climate Change Impact, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, Pisa 56124, Italy

Date of Submission06-May-2022
Date of Decision20-May-2022
Date of Acceptance24-May-2022
Date of Web Publication16-Jun-2022

Correspondence Address:
Valentina Virginia Ebani
Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Pisa, Viale delle Piagge 2; Centre for Climate Change Impact, University of Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, Pisa 56124
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2773-0344.347379

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How to cite this article:
Ebani VV. The effects of climate change: Spreading of zoonotic arthropod-borne diseases in Europe. One Health Bull 2022;2:8

How to cite this URL:
Ebani VV. The effects of climate change: Spreading of zoonotic arthropod-borne diseases in Europe. One Health Bull [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 May 30];2:8. Available from: http://www.johb.info/text.asp?2022/2/1/8/347379

Arthropod-borne diseases are emerging infectious diseases frequently reported in humans and animals worldwide. They are caused by bacteria, viruses and protozoa transmitted through the bite of hematophagous arthropods, mainly ticks but also fleas, mosquitoes and lice.

The spread of the pathogens responsible for these diseases is stronghly related to the distribution of arthropod species that depends on several factors: agricultural and wildlife management, deforestation and climatic conditions. In particular, climatic changes, mainly increase of temperature and humidity, caused higher presence of hemtophagous arthropods in large areas of different continents with consequent higher circulation of the microorganisms and presence of new pathogens in new geographic areas.

Ticks of different species harbor and transmit bacteria inducing diseases, in some cases with severe symptomatology, in people and domestic animals. Ticks vectors have increased in density and spread into higher latitudes and altitudes in Europe, thus tick-borne diseases such as Lyme borreliosis and rickettsiosis have been more frequently diagnosed in geographic area where previously they were sporadic. Lyme disease, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is typical of north Europe, but no sporadic cases have been reported in warmer areas[1].

New Rickettsia species appeared in new territories. Rickettsia (R.) slovaca, responsible for tick-borne lymphadenopathy disease in humans and typical of central Europe, is now present in mediterranean area; R. africae, R. massiliae, R. aeschlimannii, R. monacensis are some examples of agents causing spotted fever diseases in areas where previously R. conorii was the only known rickettsial pathogen[2]. Similarly, fleas are the main vectors of R. felis and R. typhi that are cause of human diseases, characterized by clinical forms often with severe signs, not so rare as supposed.

Monocytic Ehrlichiosis of dogs, originally called tropical canine panleucopenia, is caused by Ehrlichia canis and transmitted by ticks, mainly Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Currently, Ehrlichia canis is largely spread worlwide, including not only tropical territories, but also areas with less warm temperatures[3].

Increasing circulation of mosquitos and appearance of new species are strong examples of the consequence related to the climatic changes.

Mosquitos are largely involved in the epidemiology of arbovirosis, such as West Nile and Usutu diseases that in the past, as suggested by their names, were typical of the humid african areas close to Nile and Usutu rivers, whereas in the last two decades they became severe threats for the human and veterinary medicine in Europe, too, causing encephalitis in people, horses and mortality in birds[4],[5].

Wide distribution of hematophagous vectors induced to suppose new epidemiological cycles for zoonosis such as Q fever (by Coxiella burnetii), brucellosis, leptospirosis[6],[7],[8]. In fact, pathogens not traditionally considered as arthropod-borne microorganisms and usually transmitted through oral and/or inhalatory routes, have been detected in ticks, as well as other hematophagous vectors, with increasing frequence.

Climatic changes and, consequently, the epidemiology of several infectious diseases are constantly evolving. For this reason, regular monitoring of the distribution of hematophagous arthropods and related pathogens is fundamental, mainly in view of the One Health concept.

Measures against arthropods and timely diagnosis of these infections in persons and animals are pivotal to successfully fight the diseases.

Conflict of interest statement

The author claims there is no conflict of interest.


The study received no extramural funding.

  References Top

Vandekerckhove O, Buck ED, Wijngaerden EV. Lyme disease in Western Europe: An emerging problem? A systematic review. Acta Clin Belg 2021; 76(3): 244-252.  Back to cited text no. 1
Portillo A, Santibáñez S, García-Álvarez L, Palomar AM, Oteo JA. Rickettsioses in Europe. Microbes Infect 2015; 17(11-12): 834-838.  Back to cited text no. 2
Sainz Á, Roura X, Miró G, Estrada-Peña A, Kohn B, Harrus S, et al. Guideline for veterinary practitioners on canine ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis in Europe. Parasit Vectors. 2015; 8: 75. doi:10.1186/s13071-015-0649-0.  Back to cited text no. 3
Riccò M, Peruzzi S, Balzarini F. Epidemiology of West Nile virus infections in humans, Italy, 2012-2020: A summary of available evidences. Trop Med Infect Dis 2021; 6(2): 61. doi:10.3390/tropicalmed6020061.  Back to cited text no. 4
Musto C, Tamba M, Calzolari M, Torri D, Marzani K, Cerri J, et al. Usutu virus in blackbirds (Turdus merula) with clinical signs, a case study from northern Italy. Eur J Wildl Res 2022; 68: 23. doi:10.1007/s10344-022-01572-z.  Back to cited text no. 5
Wójcik-Fatla A, Zając V, Cisak E, Sroka J, Sawczyn A, Dutkiewicz J. Leptospirosis as a tick-borne disease? Detection of Leptospira spp. in Ixodes ricinus ticks in eastern Poland. Ann Agric Environ Med 2012; 19(4): 656-659.  Back to cited text no. 6
Huang TP, Zhang JB, Sun CY, Liu ZC, He HY, Wu J. et al. A novel arthropod host of Brucellosis in the arid steppe ecosystem. Front Vet Sci 2020; 7: 566253. doi:10.3389/fvets.2020.566253.  Back to cited text no. 7
Körner S, Makert GR, Ulbert S, Pfeffer M, Mertens-Scholz K. The Prevalence of Coxiella burnetii in hard ticks in Europe and their role in Q fever transmission revisited-A systematic review. Front Vet Sci 2021; 8: 655715. doi:10.3389/fvets.2021.655715.  Back to cited text no. 8


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