Virus tied to climate change

An outbreak in Italy of a rare African disease has medical experts concerned that climate change and globalization together are creating health threats to the West.

Recent reports of hundreds of cases of chikungunya fever are highly unusual in Italy. The country typically sees only isolated cases of the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. Officials from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control told The Associated Press that populations of the insects are larger this year due to early breeding—the result of an usually mild winter.

Medical authorities think vector mosquitoes picked up the virus from an infected tourist from India. They are additionally concerned since the species of insect—the Asian tiger mosquito—is capable of spreading other dangerous diseases, such as dengue fever and yellow fever.