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Mild winters bring more diseases

Mild winters bring more diseases

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Exceptionally warm winters cause a great stir in nature. Ticks, for example, are now active year-round in some areas, which means cases of Lyme disease are on the rise. There are also potential impacts on insect health. In addition, there are diseases from distant countries.

This February was the warmest in the history of measurements in Austria. In Linz, for example, there were only two days of frost, according to measurement data from meteorologists at Geosphere Austria. Lines of concern are now growing among experts. Due to the warmer temperatures in the Danube region, the common spring migration of toads and frogs now begins two to three weeks earlier than it did a few years ago. Amphibians seem to suffer from fungal diseases quite often. “We don't know how this non-existent winter affects amphibians,” says Julia Kropfberger, president of the Nature Conservation Society of Upper Austria. “Or other animals that hibernate or hibernate.”

Ticks take advantage of warm winters

We humans already feel one of the consequences. Ticks are now active almost year-round in Upper Austria. At the Order Hospital in Linz, Lyme disease patients who were bitten by ticks in January are being treated. “It's simply because we don't see subzero temperatures for weeks, say minus 15 or minus 20 degrees,” says Petra Apfalter, head of the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the Ordensklinikum Hospital in Linz. “But this would be necessary to kill certain forms of ticks.” We've been getting this far for a very long time.

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New diseases in Europe

In addition, there are new diseases in Europe, such as dengue fever or West Nile virus. But there's no reason to panic, says Apfalter. So far there have been only a few cases in Europe. However, mosquitoes that transmit these diseases, as well as variable tick behavior, must be monitored.