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By Sari Kovats; World Health Organization

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Additional resources for Climate Change and Stratospheric Ozone Depletion (WHO Regional Publications. European Series)

Sample text

A heat wave in Greece in July 1987 was associated with 2000 excess deaths in Athens (69). 5% increase in mortality was observed compared with the average mortality in July for 1981–1986 (61). The magnitude of these effects still needs to be established in terms of years of life lost. The public health significance of the “harvesting” phenomenon needs to be determined. Harvesting means that a proportion of the deaths occur in susceptible frail or sick people who were likely to have died in the near future.

Aegypti has been 45 recorded in several European and North African countries in the Mediterranean region, including France and Portugal. The distribution of Ae. aegypti closely follows the 10 °C winter isotherm (132), and currently includes sub-Saharan Africa and some countries bordering the Persian Gulf. Another dengue vector, Ae. albopictus, is currently extending its range in Europe. It was introduced into Italy in 1990 and has been reported from 10 regions and 19 provinces since. It has also been separately reported from Albania since 1979.

Much of the excess mortality attributable to heat waves is from cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and respiratory disease, and these deaths are not certified as heat-related. It is therefore likely that, during hot weather, people suffering from such diseases experience additional health problems. Several studies have observed that elderly people are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness (64). 26 Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have an aging population. The European Commission has estimated that, by the year 2025, the population of adults aged 60 years and older in the European Union will increase by 37 million (50%) (65).

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