Large dengue fever outbreak in Madeira spreads cases in Europe

In a rapid risk assessment, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said 25 cases of the mosquito-borne disease – which is also called breakbone fever because of the severe pain it can cause – have been found elsewhere in Europe in travellers returning from Madeira.

Such cases have so far been picked up in Portugal, Britain, Germany, Sweden and France, it said.

"Given the dramatic expansion of endemic dengue transmission globally over the last 20 to 30 years and the high number of visitors to Madeira, the outbreak is large and constitutes a significant public health event," the centre said in an assessment issued late on Tuesday.

Since the outbreak began in early October, 1 357 cases of dengue fever have been reported by health workers in Madeira, including 669 laboratory-confirmed cases and 688 probable cases.

Eighty-nine people have received hospital treatment but there have been no deaths so far.

Dengue is a viral infection that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild flu-like illness to more serious illnesses including rashes and bone pain. Severe and potentially deadly forms develop in around 5% of patients.

The most efficient carriers of the disease, mosquitoes known as Aedes aegypti, have an established presence in Madeira, an archipelago north of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tracking the outbreak
The centre, which monitors disease in the region, said it was working with European Union member states and the European Commission to make sure cases in returning tourists were fully reported and tracked.

Local transmissions of dengue fever in Europe were recorded in France and Croatia in 2010, but the Madeira outbreak is the first sustained transmission of the disease since the 1920s and is expected to continue to the end of the year.

Beyond that, "mosquito density will probably decrease", the centre for disease prevention and control said.

Earlier this year, Greece's health officials attributed the death of an 80-year-old man to its first case of dengue since an outbreak there in 1927 to 1928. Greece is suffering an upsurge in mosquito-borne diseases, including malaria.

The centre did not recommend any Madeira travel restrictions but advised protection against mosquito bites, including disinfection and control of mosquitoes at ports and airports.

Since dengue-carrying mosquitoes are daytime biters, it said protection should be applied throughout the day.

The centre also advised authorities in geographical areas neighbouring Madeira, such as the Canary Islands, to step up surveillance of Aedes mosquito populations to assess the risk that dengue fever might spread. – Reuters

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

South African Federation of Trade Unions membership numbers decline

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says the dwindling numbers are a result of the economic crisis and other factors

Route closure may be extended as talks between Western Cape...

The reopening of Route B97 without an agreement may result in a flood of illegal taxi operators and reignite taxi violence

Red tape is strangling small businesses

People in countries such as Brazil, India and China are two to three times more likely to be entrepreneurs than South Africans.

Can Panyaza Lesufi save the ANC in Gauteng come 2024?

With the Gauteng provincial conference around the corner, West Rand regional secretary Sanele Ngweventsha argues that Lesufi might give them the edge in 2024.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×