Concerns as disease-carrying mosquitoes spread
*Malaria could increase person’s risk of heart failure by 30% by triggering inflammation that causes scar tissue to build up in organ
Disease-carrying mosquitoes have reached Crimea’s peninsula as global warming aids the spread of the potentially deadly insects.An outbreak of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome — commonly dubbed ‘mouse fever’ — has also broken out in the Penza region to the northeast of the Black Sea.
Outbreaks have been reported in 13 districts, News.ru reported, with 161 fever patients having been diagnosed in the region so far this year.Mosquitoes are also known vectors for various deadly diseases, including Zika, the chikungunya virus, dengue fever, the west Nile virus and yellow fever.
Russian epidemiologists have cautioned that further outbreaks are at risk of emerging and spreading further north into Russia.It is believed that the disease-carrying mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus likely arrived in the region around the Black Sea — along whose entire coastline they can now be found — from Egypt and southeastern Asia.Alongside viruses, mosquitoes can also spread filamentous worm larvae, which can severely compromise the internal organs of both afflicted animals and people.
Russian disease experts have warned that an epidemic could easily break out in the Crimea and spread up into central Russia, reported the Izvestia newspaper.The risk is heightened by the potential for tourists and other travellers to transport the disease over greater distances that it would otherwise be able to spread.
“Carriers of tropical diseases, which should not appear in the north, migrate to areas with suitable temperature conditions,” Moscow’s Martsinovsky Institute of Medical Parasitology and Tropical Medicine biologist Alexander Lukashev, told Crime Russia.“In Russia, they already multiplied in the south and are now moving to Central Russia.”
Meanwhile, research suggests that people who have battled malaria may be around 30 per cent more likely to suffer heart failure.Danish scientists analysed more than 3,980 malaria cases that occurred between 1994 and 2017. Of these patients, 69 (1.7 per cent) developed heart failure 11 years later. The researchers warn this is ‘very high compared to the general population’.
Malaria is thought to affect the function and structure of the heart’s muscle, known as the myocardium, the researchers claim.The infection may also trigger cardiac inflammation, which causes a build-up of scar tissue that can eventually lead to heart failure. Dr. Philip Brainin, lead author and postdoctoral research fellow at Herlev-Gentofte University Hospital, said: “We have seen an increase in the incidence of malaria cases. And what is intriguing is we have seen the same increase in cardiovascular disease in the same regions.
“I think, in light of these findings, there is room for much more research into a potentially overlooked complication to malaria, which could be development of cardiac disease or heart failure. And I hope these findings will be a catalyst for future research into this field.” When it comes to malaria, an estimated 219 million cases, and 435,000 deaths, are thought to have occurred worldwide in 2017 alone, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Fatalities are generally caused by an untreated infection triggering cerebral malaria. This causes the small blood vessels in the brain to become blocked, leading to seizures, brain damage and coma. Although surviving malaria has been linked to poor heart health, the extent of the damage was unclear. To learn more, the researchers used nationwide registries to identify patients who became infected between January 1994 and January 2017.
Of the 3,989 cases, 40 per cent were caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This is the most common malaria species worldwide and the most likely to be fatal.Over the 11 year follow-up, 69 of the patients developed heart failure, which is “very high compared to the general population”, the researchers wrote.
Sixty eight also died from “cardiovascular” causes, which the team “considered within [the] normal range”.“Thirty per cent is a high number, but you also have to understand it is a relatively small study, which is a limitation,” Brainin said. “As of right now the results of this study are more hypothesis-generating for future studies.”
The study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris. Although unclear exactly how malaria affects the heart, the infection has been linked to inflammation and high blood pressure. “I think these findings are quite interesting not only from an epidemiological perspective but also from the medical perspective,”Brainin said. “If malaria is potentially linked to cardiac disease it could represent a therapeutic target we could use to control and prevent cardiac disease in these regions.” Until further research is available, the scientists advise doctors reduce their patients’ heart disease risk by treating obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
The team will start a study investigating the heart health of malaria patients next year.Meanwhile, Lukashev said that disease carrying mosquitoes are easy to distinguish from those mosquitoes that are native to Russia.The disease-carriers have either white marks on their legs and a matching strip on their backs, or alternatively black and white striped legs and a spotted abdomen.
Russian officials, however, have reportedly endeavoured to dismiss the full extent of the hazard being posed by these new arrivals.President Vladimir Putin has admitted that Russia is increasingly feeling the impact of climate change, but has denied that the phenomena is man-made in origin.Unseasonably warm conditions and flooding in late May last year were attributed as the cause of a plague of mosquitoes that hit southwest Russia’s Voronezh region, which lies just 290 miles from the capital city of Moscow.
Previously, only yellow fever and West Nile fever had been recorded in Russia previously, the Times reported. Yellow fever had previously been eliminated in the 1950s, but has seen a re-emergence recently.It is believed that the disease-carrying mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus likely arrived in Crimea and around the Black Sea — along whose entire coastline they can now be found — from Egypt and southeastern Asia
It is believed that the disease-carrying mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus likely arrived in Crimea and around the Black Sea — along whose entire coastline they can now be found — from Egypt and southeastern Asia
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