Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Climate change can lead to significant shifts in the geographic and seasonal distribution ranges of vector-borne diseases in Europe.
Climate can affect vector-borne diseases by shortening the life-cycles of vectors and the incubation periods of vector-borne pathogens, thereby potentially leading to larger vector populations and higher transmission risks. Over the longer term, seasonal changes could affect both vectors and host animals, as well as human behaviours and land-use patterns, thereby further influencing the geographical distribution, seasonal activity and overall prevalence of vector-borne diseases in Europe. Furthermore, climatic suitability is essential for the arrival, establishment and spread of ‘exotic’ diseases that are not currently established in continental Europe. In addition to climate, the spread of communicable diseases depends on a range of interconnected ecological, economic and social factors, such as land-use patterns and fragmentation; biological diversity; the capacity of public health systems; travel, trade and migration; and human behaviours affecting individual risk factors.
- EEA (2010) The European environment – state and outlook 2010 Synthesis. European Environment Agency, Copenhagen.
- Semenza and Menne (2009): Climate change and infectious diseases in Europe Semenza, J. C. and Menne, B. (2009) Climate change and infectious diseases in Europe. The Lancet Infectious Diseases 9(6), 365–375.
- Distribution of Borrelia burgdorferi in questing I. ricinus ticks in Europe
- Change in distribution of Aedes albopictus in Europe
- Climatic suitability for the mosquitos Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti in Europe
- Risk level [quantiles]
- Presence vs. absence
Policy context and targets
In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The White Paper stresses the need to improve the knowledge base and to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. The European Commission will be publishing an EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. A number of Member States have already taken action, and several have prepared national adaptation plans.
The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
DG Climate Action: What is the EU doing about climate change?
Activities of the EU regarding climate change (both mitigation and adaptation)
White paper - Adapting to climate change: towards a European framework for action
EU framework for adaptation to climate change, leading to a comprehensive EU adaptation strategy by 2013
Key policy question
What are health effects of vector-borne diseases across Europe, and how are they changing?
Methodology for indicator calculation
Simulations are used for the risk calculation for the probability of finding nymphal ticks positive for Borrelia burgdorferi and for the climatic suitability for the mosquitos Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti in Europe. The detection of the occurance of the tiger mosquito is based on observations.
Methodology for gap filling
- Estrada-Pena et al. 2011: Correlation of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato prevalence in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks with specific abiotic traits in the Western Palearctic Estrada-Pena, A., Ortega, C., Sanchez, N., DeSimone, L., Sudre, B., Suk, J. E. and Semenza, J. C. (2011) Correlation of Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato prevalence in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks with specific abiotic traits in the Western Palearctic. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77(11), 3838–3845. doi:10.1128/AEM.00067-11
- ECDC (2012) The climatic suitability for dengue transmission in continental Europe. (ECDC Technical Report). European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, Stockholm, Sweden.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
- European distribution of Borrelia burgdorferi in questing I. ricinus ticks
- The climatic suitability for dengue transmission in continental Europe
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Attribution of health effects to climate change is difficult due to the complexity of interactions, and potentially modifying effects of a range of other factors (such as land use changes, public health preparedness, and socio-economic conditions). Criteria for defining a climate-sensitive health impact are not always well identified and their detection sometimes relies on complex statistical or modelling studies. Furthermore, these criteria as well as the completeness and reliability of observations may differ between regions and/or institutions, and they may change over time. Data availability and quality is crucial in climate change and human health assessments, both for longer term changes in climate-sensitive health outcomes, and for health impacts of extreme events. The monitoring of climate-sensitive health effects is currently fragmentary and heterogeneous. All these factors make it difficult to identify significant trends in climate-sensitive health outcomes over time, and to compare them across regions. In the absence of reliable time series, more complex approaches are often used to assess the past, current or future impacts of climate change on human health.
Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A – What is happening to the environment and to humans?)