NewsRKI boss Wieler warns of "exotic diseases" in Germany...

RKI boss Wieler warns of "exotic diseases" in Germany – is even malaria returning?

Created: 08/08/2022, 3:30 p.m

There are more and more mosquitoes and ticks in Germany, which is why the risk of exotic infections is increasing, according to the RKI. Lothar Wieler gives concrete examples. Among them is malaria.

Munich/Berlin – According to Lothar Wieler, exotic infectious diseases could soon also occur more frequently in Germany. The reason for this is global warming, Wieler explained to the Funke media group . “Climate change is leading to an expansion of the habitats for mosquitoes and ticks in Germany,” he said in the interview, describing: “Many species of mosquitoes and ticks can transmit viral, bacterial and parasitic pathogens.”

Viruses in Germany: RKI boss Lothar Wieler warns of the return of malaria

The currently rising temperatures increased the risk of this, explained the head of the Berlin Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Health of Karl Lauterbach (SPD). As examples, Wieler named the Zika virus, dengue viruses, the West Nile virus and what is known as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). “Also, a return of malaria is possible,” he said. The RKI boss therefore demanded that doctors in the Federal Republic should be made aware of this. “This is also an important concern of the RKI,” said the 61-year-old.

As Der Spiegel writes, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 400,000 people die from malaria every year. This particularly affects children in poor areas of the world. The vast majority of the roughly 230 million annual cases of infection would be registered in Africa, where adaptable malaria mosquitoes have been identified, according to the 2021 report. Malaria pathogens are transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes that breed in bodies of water, for example in puddles or swamps.

Malaria in Germany? Infectious disease has been considered eradicated in Europe since 1974

Malaria in Germany too? The infectious disease had actually been considered eradicated in Europe since 1974. A high fever with chills and sweating are typical symptoms of the disease. This can lead to a coma. Some organs are also affected, for example in the form of pulmonary edema.

RKI-Chef und Bundesgesundheitsminister: Lothar Wieler (li.) und Karl Lauterbach (SPD) bei einer Pressekonferenz.
RKI boss and Federal Minister of Health: Lothar Wieler (left) and Karl Lauterbach (SPD) at a press conference. © IMAGO/Chris Emil Janssen

According to a scientific dissertation from the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg in 1826, every second child in some regions of East Friesland suffered from marsh fever (malaria tertiana). A form of malaria that occurred in Germany at the time. According to the MDR, after swamps had been drained, sewage systems gradually built and river flows regulated, malaria had largely disappeared from Germany by the end of the 19th century. Because: The breeding grounds of the mosquitoes were destroyed by the measures.

Will malaria return to Germany? Last recorded after World War II

According to the report, malaria flared up again regionally immediately after the Second World War in the extremely warm and humid summers of 1945 and 1946. The mosquitoes found breeding grounds in devastated cities – for example in bomb craters. Is malaria now returning to Germany because of global warming and rising temperatures? (pm)

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