DEADLY Dengue fever – also known as “breakbone fever” – can cause severe muscle and joint pain in those infected.
The jungle beetle usually reproduces in warm tropical climates as it is transmitted by mosquitoes, which also suffer from zika, yellow fever, and chikungunya fever.
Asian tiger mosquitoes — which get their name from the white stripe down the center of their heads — are the tiny pests responsible for spreading dengue fever through their bites.
Although Europe’s climate has historically not been hospitable to the small disease-carrying pests, said Dr. Owain Donnelly of the London Hospital for Tropical Diseases that the spread of the disease is “changing rapidly”.
“Higher temperatures and more precipitation, along with increased global trade and tourism, mean we may be seeing more parts of Europe with the right combination of factors for dengue outbreaks.”
The mosquitoes that spread dengue virus have now been found further north in popular holiday areas such as southern France.
A 44-year-old British woman made headlines last month after contracting the virus on a family day out near Nice in September.
She went to the UK emergency department with a three-day fever, pain and a rash, but later made a full recovery.
French health authorities reported three separate outbreaks of the sometimes fatal fracture fever in 2022 – the infections being transmitted in the country without patients having traveled abroad, which was rare until recently.
Meanwhile, health authorities in Ibiza, Spain, issued an alert after two cases of dengue fever were detected in German tourists in August.
according to WHO“2023 is already showing intense dengue transmission” and notes an “expansion outside of historical transmission areas where the entire population, including at-risk groups and healthcare workers, may be unaware of the clinical manifestations of the disease.”
It has been warned that between January 1 and March 4 this year, 342,243 cases of the mosquito-borne virus were reported in South America, resulting in the deaths of 86 people.
In comparison, 2.8 million dengue cases were reported in the region in 2022, more than double the 1.2 million cases in 2021.
Meanwhile it is European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said that as of March 9, 380,171 cases and 113 deaths from dengue fever had been reported worldwide.
Brazil has had the most cases so far (240,482), followed by Bolivia (31,283), Peru (20,022), Colombia (15,972) and Nicaragua (13,187).
Both Bolivia and Peru reported 26 deaths, Brazil 24, Sudan 14 and Bangladesh 9.
According to the agency, no cases originating in Europe have been found so far this year, but it pointed to the six cases reported in Spain in 2022, which health authorities identified as dengue fever that year.
Accordingly NHS guidanceFracture fever has been reported in several southern European countries in the past, including:
- Portugal and Madeira
Speaking at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Donnelly added, “Physicians should consider testing for dengue fever if patients live in or have visited countries where it is also not widespread.”
What are the symptoms of dengue fever?
People who are bitten by a mosquito that transmits dengue fever do not always get symptoms.
When they do, they usually start four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected pest.
Symptoms are similar to those of 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
You should urgently see your doctor or call NHS 111 if you are unwell after visiting a country where dengue fever is endemic.
In rare cases, more serious symptoms can appear a few days after you first feel sick, including:
- 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
If you have symptoms of severe dengue fever, you should call 999 or go to the nearest emergency room.
How can I treat dengue fever?
Most people who contact it get better within a few days.
There is no treatment for dengue fever, but the best thing you can do is:
- drink enough fluids
- Take acetaminophen for fever or pain
It’s important not to take anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin, as these can cause bleeding problems with dengue fever.
You need to go to the hospital to recover from severe dengue fever.
How can I protect myself from dengue fever?
If you are in a country where dengue fever is prevalent, the best way to prevent contagion is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
It’s a good idea to wear long-sleeved clothing and pants to cover your arms and legs, especially in the early morning and early evening, they said NHS guidance.
Be generous with insect repellent and look for one that contains DEET.
Be sure to close windows and doors whenever possible, use blinds or screens, and sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net.