Malaria in Spain

Every summer thousands of us travel to exotic climes with mosquito nets, jungle-strength cream and anti-malarial drugs. But how ‘foreign' really is Malaria to Spain and Europe?
Despite all the concern about climate change enabling malaria to spread to the West, the weather is by no means the biggest factor in determining the presence of malarial mosquitoes. Europe was until the last century rife with the disease. Malaria, or ‘paludismo' as it is also known in Castilian, was endemic to Spain until well into the 20th century. It’s existence has had a huge effect on the landscape in certain areas. Much of Spain's wetland surface area has been drained in the fight to eradicate it. Malaria was declared officially eradicated in 1964, which was just in time for mass tourism, which certainly would not have taken off had it not been for the parasite's prior eradication. The first colony of tiger mosquitoes ( mosquito tigre ) has finally been detected in Spain, in Sant Cugat de Valles near Barcelona. Mosquito experts have been expecting the insect to reach here for some time. It has been spreading across Europe and reached Italy and France in 1990. The television and the press have reported dozens of people complaining of “intense” painful bites.  Robert Eritja an entomologist with the Baix Llobregat Control Service explained that the insect poses no public health risk. He added that the tiger mosquito is extremely aggressive, attacks by day and lives in gardens where they breed in stagnant pools of water. It cannot be eradicated but it can be controlled”. Scientists predict its arrival to Valencian coasts at some time this year, and it is probably only a matter of time before it is present along the entire Mediterranean strip. Its speed and virulence will depend on how effective government action is.

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