Diseases transmitted by insects

As insect activity increases in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months around the world, travellers could potentially be at risk of insect borne diseases. Some diseases can be mild and cured simply, but others can be severely life threatening, potentially resulting in death.


Chikungunya (CHIKV)

Chikungunya is a viral infection that is transmitted via infected mosquitos. This disease is found primarily in tropical parts of Africa, South and East Asia and the Indian Ocean Islands. It has more recently travelled into countries located in the Caribbean and Pacific regions. It has also been found to be emerging into parts of Europe.

Symptoms of this disease occur 3-7 days after infection. The most common symptoms are a fever and joint pain, however other signs include a headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and a rash.

The first case in Europe was discovered in the Summer of 2007 in North East Italy. In 2010, Chikungunya was reported in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France. Also, in the October 2014, a total of 11 cases of the disease were discovered in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France.

There have been cases of the disease being transferred into the UK by travellers, but as of December 2013 there has been no cases of Chikungunya reported in the UK.


Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF)

This viral infection is native to Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, although outbreaks have been recorded in Albania, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia and Turkey. Although more recently (in 2008) Greece reported the first clinical case of Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever. This disease is carried by infected Hyalomma ticks.

This disease carries symptoms such as headache, vomiting, high fever and back, joint and stomach pain. Other indications that someone may have Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is red eyes and throat, a flushed face and red spots on the palate.

Only one case of CCHF has been founded in a UK traveller since November 2014. A case was also reported in a person returning from Afghanistan in 2012.


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a widespread bacterial infection that is present across Europe. Countries where it is found include the UK, Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The infection as caused by a bite from an infected tick.

Lyme disease carries multiple ailments, including a rash, flu like symptoms, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, headaches, fever, chills and stiffness of the neck. Some of these problems will ease off slowly with time, but they can persist if treatment has been delayed.

According to reports since 2000, it shows that an average of 15% of cases of Lyme Disease that were reported in England and Wales were acquired abroad. Destinations include the US, France, Germany and Scandinavia. Recently, there has been more cases around these areas due to immigration and tourism.



This is a life-threatening disease which is carried by mosquitos. When a victim has been bitten by an infected mosquito, the parasite is released into the bloodstream. Once the parasite is in the body, it travels to the liver where they mature. Once matured, they enter the bloodstream and infect the red blood cells.

Common symptoms of Malaria include high fever, headaches, sickness and diarrhoea, muscle and abdominal pains and anaemia. In some cases, Malaria can even result in the victim falling into a coma. Other life-threatening complications of Malaria are organ failure, low blood sugar and swelling of the blood vessels of the brain.

Cases of locally acquired Malaria have occurred in Greece since 2009, and in Italy between 2009 and 2011. There have been no cases of Malaria reported in the UK from travellers returning from abroad.

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