Dengue fever: how to explain the record number of cases that have been detected in France since the start of 2022?

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French health authorities have counted no less than 41 autochthonous cases of dengue fever in France, a sign that the tiger mosquito is proliferating in the country. According to Public Health France, new cases of infections could occur in the days to come.

Never seen. This is, between the lines, what the French health authorities are observing this year on the front of dengue fever and the tiger mosquito. In a situation report carried out this Friday, September 16, Public Health France explains that it has recorded no less than 41 indigenous cases of dengue fever in France since the beginning of the year. These cases of contamination only concern people who have not “traveled to an area where the virus circulates in the 15 days preceding the onset of symptoms”.

Where have dengue fever cases been identified?

As of September 16, Santé Publique France announces that it has recorded 165 imported cases. A total of five outbreaks have been clearly identified to date. These are all located in the Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur region (Paca) and in Occitanie:

  • In the Hautes-Pyrenees, in the commune of Andrest, not far from Tarbes, three indigenous cases have been identified. A 4th case has been spotted in Rabastens. “We are here on an episode which is not closed with symptoms which began between July 11 and August 28”, specifies Public Health France.
  • In Toulouse outskirts, in La Salvetat Saint-Gilles, a small intra-family focus of four cases was detected. Symptoms started in mid-August.
  • In the Eastern Pyreneesan autochthonous case of dengue fever was identified in Perpignan at the end of June.
  • Two other outbreaks were identified in PACA region. No less than 32 cases have been identified since the end of June.

By comparison, 14 cases of dengue were detected in 2020. Only 9 cases were observed in 2019, a sign that the disease is progressing from year to year.

Dengue fever, what is it?

To understand, dengue is what is called a viral disease. This is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito that has been infected with the disease. In France, the tiger mosquito, recognizable with its white and black stripes, is clearly identified as the main cause of the disease.

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In one in two cases of infection, a sick person shows symptoms. An infected person may experience fever and joint pain. It can also present “more severe complications”.

What are the prospects for the coming weeks?

Since last January, he has been spotted in no less than 67 French departments. In 2018, the tiger mosquito was observed in 51 departments.

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According to Santé Publique France, “other cases will probably be identified” in the coming weeks. Health authorities already say that cases of infection have not yet been detected. “We see that transmission phenomena are increasingly observed between September and October. We have not left the period at risk of these episodes”, specifies Public Health France.

How to explain the proliferation of the tiger mosquito?

In recent years, the tiger mosquito has continued to proliferate. Several factors may explain this phenomenon. First “the current climatic conditions favorable to the multiplication of mosquitoes with heat and rain”, first list the health authorities. The resumption of air traffic after Covid-19 also favors the entry into French territory of cases of dengue, imported from other countries. Finally, when the tiger mosquito is installed in a territory, it is very difficult to dislodge it.

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Santé Publique France recalls that the first implantation of the tiger mosquito in France dates back to 2004. The insect was then located in Menton (Alpes-Maritimes). It then proliferated in the south-east of France.

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