Malaria is one of the most life-threatening vector-borne diseases globally. Recent autochthonous cases registered in several European countries have raised awareness regarding the threat of malaria reintroduction to Europe. An increasing number of imported malaria cases today occur due to international travel and migrant flows from malaria-endemic countries. The cumulative factors of the presence of competent vectors, favourable climatic conditions and evidence of increasing temperatures might lead to the re-emergence of malaria in countries where the infection was previously eliminated.
We performed a systematic literature review following PRISMA guidelines. We searched for original articles focusing on rising temperature and the receptivity to malaria transmission in Europe. We evaluated the quality of the selected studies using a standardised tool.
The search resulted in 1'999 articles of possible relevance and after screening we included 10 original research papers in the quantitative analysis for the systematic review. With further increasing temperatures studies predicted a northward spread of the occurrence of Anopheles mosquitoes and an extension of seasonality, enabling malaria transmission for annual periods up to 6 months in the years 2051-2080. Highest vector stability and receptivity were predicted in Southern and South-Eastern European areas. Anopheles atroparvus, the main potential malaria vector in Europe, might play an important role under changing conditions favouring malaria transmission.
The receptivity of Europe for malaria transmission will increase as a result of rising temperature unless socioeconomic factors remain favourable and appropriate public health measures are implemented. Our systematic review serves as an evidence base for future preventive measures.