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Dengue fever: why cases of this infectious disease are on the rise in France

This is an unusual number, and it is growing. According to the latest report from the French Public Health Service (SPF) dated this Friday, September 16, 41 cases of autochthonous dengue fever and 5 outbreaks have been reported on the French mainland since the beginning of the year. People with the infectious disease, which is spread from person to person through the bite of an infected tiger mosquito, did not travel to an area where the virus normally circulates in the 15 days prior to the onset of symptoms, as determined by the ministry. health.

On Wednesday, health authorities announced 26 cases identified in the regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Occitania, the Directorate General of Health (DGS) said. The most important outbreak is in the Alpes-Maritimes, in the neighboring towns of Saint-Jeannet, Gatière and La Gaude: 26 cases were counted with symptoms that began between August 1 and September 6, Marie-Claire Paty said this Friday. , Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases of the Public Health of France.

The balance sheet is likely to be revised upward in the coming days and weeks. If the peak of the incidence is in August and September, “in the past there were episodes in September-October, so we may have new ones, and we are not out of the risk period,” said Marie-Claire-Pati.

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“We’re going in the direction of extending and multiplying episodes”

The rate of detected cases is already higher than in previous years. Since 2010, the SPF has recorded just over ten local cases in its most extensive annual report yet. In 2020, health authorities identified 14 cases of autochthonous dengue, spreading to six outbreaks, and two cases in 2021.

“We are moving towards an expansion and multiplication of these episodes of dengue fever in metropolitan France,” emphasized Marie-Claire Paty. To explain the increase in cases, she mentioned “the spread of the tiger mosquito into French territory” and, more generally, its global distribution, although it has been observed since the late 1990s. Menton (Alpes-Maritimes) in 2004, the tiger mosquito or Aedes albopictus mosquito, which can also transmit chikungunya and zika, then gradually moved to the north of the country and is now permanently present in 2022 in 67 departments. The virus regularly circulates in the French departments of the Antilles, as well as in the French islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Map of metropolitan departments where tiger mosquito presence is known as of January 1, 2022.

Map of metropolitan departments where tiger mosquito presence is known as of January 1, 2022.

Ministry of Health care

Deforestation and urbanization also play a role in its spread, as well as climate change that contributes to its development, with factors such as “high temperatures, rainfall, floods, as well as droughts”, according to the SPF, while the current weather conditions are favourable. for their multiplication. “The movement of people and travelers contributes to the spread of these diseases,” added Marie-Claire Paty.

Flu-like symptoms

Dengue fever symptoms are most often flu-like (fever, headache, body aches) and appear within 3 to 14 days after a mosquito bite. However, most often dengue proceeds benignly and can take hemorrhagic forms. Treatment is symptomatic, including pain and fever. “Bite prevention and control of the spread of mosquitoes are necessary to limit the occurrence of epidemic outbreaks,” the Ministry of Health insists.

In particular, he recalls the importance of storing everything that may contain water, sheltering from the rain, wearing loose and covering clothing, using skin repellent or even, if necessary, mosquito nets on openings (doors and windows).

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The Ministry also reminds of the need to immediately consult a doctor in case of suspicious symptoms (high fever with sudden onset, muscle or joint pain, eye pain, fatigue, headache), in particular if the diagnosis of Covid-19 is excluded and if they appear in within fifteen days of returning from a trip to the tropics. At the same time, mosquito control activities are organized by regional health authorities as soon as an imported or local case is reported.

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