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The threat of emerging diseases

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Hantavirus infections in the UK have been linked t Hantavirus infections in the UK have been linked to wild and pet rats; the virus is spread in rodent urine, saliva and faeces

In March 2015, the Lancet issued a press release entitled ‘Experts warn of potential upsurge in mosquito and tick-borne diseases as UK climate gets warmer.’ The warning, from Dr Jolyon Medlock and Professor Steve Leach of Public Health England’s Emergency Response Department, suggests primary care nurses may soon need to acquaint themselves with a number of emerging diseases that are still relatively unknown in the UK.1

Mosquito and tick diseases
The mosquito-borne diseases that may present the UK with future public health challenges are West Nile fever, dengue, chikungunya – for which no specific antiviral treatments exist – and the protozoan disease malaria, which is amenable to anti-malarial drug treatment2.

West Nile fever mainly infects birds and, infrequently, humans through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito.3 Although most people infected with West Nile virus do not experience signs or symptoms, some may develop life-threatening encephalitis. In 2013, 700 cases of West Nile fever were reported in Europe.1

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