HOLIDAYMAKERS planning a trip to Italy to bridge the final bank holiday have been warned of a killer virus outbreak.
Six cases of dengue fever – also known as “breakbone fever” – have been recorded in the northern and central regions of the country.
According to a, five people in Lombardy and another in Lazio had succumbed to the virus by September 1 Disease threat report from the European Center for Disease Control (EDCD).
Cases have skyrocketed since the regulator’s last alert on August 25, which warned of four cases of dengue in Italy.
All cases are believed to be autochthonous, that is, acquired locally and not through travel abroad.
Dengue fever is transmitted through the bites of mosquitoes that transmit the sometimes deadly pathogen.
Although it’s not usually serious, some people can experience serious symptoms that require urgent medical attention, such as severe abdominal pain and nausea, and bloody vomit or feces.
Italian health authorities reported the first locally acquired case of dengue on August 18 in a person from Lombardy who had not recently left the region.
According to the ECDC, the patient first developed symptoms on August 3.
The alarm was then raised in Lazio on August 21, where someone noticed signs of dengue fever on August 2.
“Pending further ongoing microbiological investigations, epidemiological investigations have so far found no link between the cases in Lombardy and the case identified in the Lazio region,” ECDC wrote.
The Italian health authorities are now trying to contain the spread of the virus and prevent further cases.
The ECDC added that “more autochthonous cases could emerge in the affected regions and in Italy overall”.
“Surveillance has been strengthened to detect new cases early, identify chains of transmission, define vulnerable areas and quantify risk levels,” it said.
However, the European health agency said it was not uncommon for autochthonous cases of dengue to emerge in parts of southern Europe during the summer months.
The Aedes albopictus mosquito, which has meanwhile established itself in large parts of Europe, tends to be responsible for these transmissions.
Another two people also fell ill with “broken bone fever” in France at the beginning of August.
And Paris was recently fumigated for the first time to prevent disease-ridden mosquitoes from spreading dengue fever in the French capital.
It is very common in certain parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
More recently, however, the bug has appeared in Croatia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Madeira.
To prevent dengue fever, you must reduce the risk of a mosquito bite by spraying insect repellent, covering exposed skin with loose clothing, and sleeping under a net.
The 14 Dengue Fever Symptoms You Should Know
Dengue fever does not always cause symptoms NHS guidance.
However, if you notice any, they usually appear four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Symptoms can resemble the flu and include:
- a high temperature
- strong headache
- pain behind your eyes
- muscle and joint pain
- feel sick or be sick
- swollen glands
- a patchy rash made up of flat or slightly raised patches – this can affect large areas of your body
- severe abdominal pain
- always be sick
- rapid breathing
- bleeding gums or nose
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- inability to relax (restlessness)
- blood in your vomit or stool
The last seven symptoms listed are usually only present in severe cases of dengue – you should call 999 or go to the emergency room if you experience them.
If your symptoms are milder, you can treat them at home by resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking acetaminophen to bring the temperature down.
However, the NHS advises that you should avoid anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin as these can cause bleeding problems if you have dengue.