More than 275,000 people across the globe die each year due to diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. This does not include the almost half a million deaths caused by malaria, nor other serious repercussions that may arise. The latest big health threat is the Zika virus, already present in more than 80 countries and capable of causing microcephaly (a serious brain anomaly) in children born of infected mothers.
Globalization and climate change are facilitating the spread of these types of diseases beyond the areas where they typically occur, including the Mediterranean region. In these countries we cannot rule out the arrival of new infections caused by the Zika virus.
Are we ready to prevent them or fight them? To discuss this, and to propose the necessary improvements, some of the top international experts will participate in the debate ‘Zika virus and other mosquito-borne viruses. Science for preparedness and response in the Mediterranean region’, organized by B·Debate −an initiative by Biocat and “La Caixa” Foundation to promote scientific debate− together with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
- Mosquito-borne diseases are an extremely serious problem on a global level. Moreover, due to globalization and climate change more areas are being exposed to them.
- Surveillance campaigns, together with mosquito-control methods, are fundamental for preventing or containing infection. However, there are still some gaps and shortfalls.
- The Zika virus is the latest infection to gain notoriety. Although the only cases Catalonia have been imported from other countries, there is a risk that the virus may be transmitted by the tiger mosquito.
- Risk communication campaigns are crucial and should include both generic and specific messages for each community.