An outbreak in Europe of an obscure disease from Africa is raising concerns that globalization and climate change are combining to pose a health threat to the West.
Nearly 300 cases of chikungunya fever, a virus that previously has been common only in Africa and Asia, were reported in Italy — where only isolated cases of the disease had been seen in the past.
"We were quite surprised," said Stefania Salmaso, director of Italy's Center for Epidemiology at the National Health Institute. "Nobody was expecting that such an unusual event was going to happen."
While the outbreak was largely the result of stronger trade and travel ties, some experts believe it is a sign of how global warming is creating new breeding grounds for diseases long confined to subtropical climates.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007