The holidays are over and the school year has begun, but the vigilance against the tiger mosquito must not let up, the French Public Health Service (SPF) has warned. This reminder is due to the appearance of so-called “local” dengue outbreaks in metropolitan France, that is, cases that do not come from people who have traveled abroad or abroad. Since 2010, the French public health agency has registered just over ten local cases in its largest annual reports. But this year the number of cases has risen sharply, with the number of new victims rising to 41 cases. Every time a local case is found, the Regional Health Authority (ARS) organizes mosquito control operations.
“The months of September and October are especially favorable for the spread of dengue cases. Mosquitoes were able to breed throughout the summer. The temperatures during this period are still very pleasant and adequate for them. holidays during which travelers may return infected,” explains Marie-Claire Paty, director of infectious diseases at the French Public Health Service (SPF), who explains that vigilance remains until the end of October, when temperatures cool down.
67 departments interested in 12 years
Dengue fever is an infectious disease that is spread from person to person through the bite of an infected tiger mosquito. The virus regularly circulates in the French departments of the Antilles, as well as in the French islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. On the French mainland, the Aedes albopictus mosquito or tiger mosquito, a potential vector of dengue fever, is now resident in 67 departments, with a total of five outbreaks in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region, as well as in suburbs from Toulouse. Last year, six outbreaks were detected, but they were all smaller.
The tiger mosquito has been observed since the late 1990s in France. “It was first created in 2004 in the gardens of Menton. [dans les Alpes-Maritimes, ndlr]before spreading to 67 departments as far north as France in 2022. The area covered by mosquitoes is expanding, and local mosquito density is also becoming more important,” warns Marie-Claire Paty.
“This threat is only growing”
Cases of dengue fever are likely to increase in the coming years. “This threat is only growing. It is facilitated by deforestation, urbanization, hot temperatures, drought and rainfall. The same thing happens with the movement of people who travel. All this contributes to an increase in cases of the disease.” The public health of France therefore recommends protection against mosquitoes also when returning from a trip and combating the breeding of larvae in breeding areas, places with stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. So, the Ministry of Health advises to store everything that may contain water, away from rain, wear covering and loose clothing, use skin repellent or even, if necessary, fences – mosquito nets on doors and windows.
It is also recommended that you see a doctor immediately if you have symptoms such as a sudden high fever, muscle or joint pain, eye pain, fatigue, or headaches. “Symptomatic” treatment is to relieve fatigue and fever.