WHO concerned about the spread of dengue fever also in Europe

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The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about the spread of dengue virus, including in Europe. Aedes mosquitoes, native to tropical and subtropical climates, transmit it. However, they spread worldwide. Since 2000, the number of annual cases has increased eightfold, to an estimated 4.2 million last year, Raman Velayudhan, head of WHO’s Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said Friday in Geneva.

“Half of the world’s population is now at risk of dengue,” he said. In the WHO European region, there have already been local infections in about two dozen countries, including Spain and France.

No local infections have been reported yet
No local contagions have been reported yet this year, according to the European public health agency ECDC. Heat waves with exceptionally high temperatures tend to dry out mosquito breeding sites and reduce the risk of being bitten, Velayudhan said. But he called on all countries to be vigilant when rains return. The mosquitoes breed in standing water.

Overall, WHO estimates there are up to 400 million infections worldwide. The estimate is problematic because 80 percent of those affected have hardly any or only mild symptoms when first infected and do not go to the doctor.

Dengue fever causes severe limb pain.
They are then immune to one of the four dengue viruses. But in the event of a second infection with one of the other three viruses, the disease can be more severe and life-threatening, Velayudhan said. Dengue fever used to be called bone-breaking fever because it can cause severe limb pain.

North, Central and South America have already reported as many infections and deaths this year through July as they did last year, Velayudhan said, with 2.8 million illnesses and 1,280 deaths in 2022. In Austria, 30 to 120 dengue virus infections are diagnosed each year, so far without exception, among travellers returning from endemic areas, according to the Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) website.

No drugs against dengue
There are no drugs against dengue except those that reduce fever. There is a vaccine on the market, but it only provides protection after initial infection, and it is more or less effective depending on which other virus you are infected with, Velayudhan said.

The best thing to do, he said, is to protect yourself with bug spray and avoid standing water in the home environment because mosquitoes breed in it. They bite during the day, so he said mosquito nets for sleeping are ineffective against these mosquitoes.

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