Deadly mosquitos carrying exotic diseases such as the zika virus, dengue fever, and chikungunya could live in the United Kingdom in the 2040s and 50s.
That is the view of experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) who have issued a stark warning on the impact climate change could have on Britain. Its worse-case scenario report – which was drawn up by 90 top scientists – says high emissions could see temperatures rise by 4C by 2100.
A major health concern flagged in the report however is the Asian tiger mosquito. The UKHSA says muggier climates have increased the mosquito’s presence in Europe in recent years.
And, by 2060, it predicts the bug could be spreading dengue fever in London by 2060. The virus, which is mostly found in tropical climates, makes people seriously ill.
Symptoms include a high temperature, a severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, a blotchy rash made up of either flat or slightly raised spots. Patients may also feel or be sick.
In extreme cases dengue patients may require hospital treatment. Severe dengue can cause additional symptoms including severe tummy pain, repeatedly being sick including throwing up blood, fast breathing, bleeding gums or nose, fatigue, restlessness and blood in stools.
The predictions say England would be hit by the mosquitos first before Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of the Scottish Lowlands also become suitable locations. Should they ever arrive in the UK permanently, the UKHSA says people would have to learn how to store water properly, meaning buckets, paddling pools, and rain collecting vessels would have to be emptied or covered properly, reports the BBC.
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) chief executive, said: “Things that when I trained many years ago were called tropical diseases will actually become national domestic diseases.
Other scenarious forecast in the worst-case scenario report include a spike in heat-related death and flooding. Although experts say these can be prevented by cutting greenhouse gases.
The UKHSA already has monitoring systems in place to spot tropical mosqitos. But scientist Dr Jolyon Medlock told the report these would have to be expanded should the worse-case happen.