Global dengue

Global dengue risk reminder

Dengue is a virus spread by mosquitoes found in tropical and sub-tropical regions worldwide, including parts of Europe
Global dengue risk reminder

Dengue is a growing public health concern, with the World Health Organization (WHO) advising that approximately four billion people in 130 countries are at risk of infection. Since the beginning of 2023, the world has faced an unexpected rise in dengue cases and deaths in countries with an established risk of dengue (endemic) and dengue has spread into regions previously thought to be dengue free [1, 2].

As of April 2024, over five million dengue cases and over 2000 dengue-related deaths have been reported worldwide since the beginning of 2024 [3]. An increase in dengue cases has been reported in several regions, including Asia, Central and South America and across the Caribbean [2 – 6].

Dengue is not endemic in Europe. However, if environmental conditions are favourable in areas of Europe where mosquitoes that can carry dengue are found, travel-related cases may cause local dengue spread. Several European countries have previously reported locally acquired cases of dengue. In 2023, locally acquired cases have been reported in France, Italy and Spain [7, 8].

Dengue is caused by a virus (Flaviviridae virus family) and is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes) which mainly feed during daytime hours. There are four different types of dengue virus: DENV- 1, DENV- 2, DENV- 3 and DENV- 4.

Most people infected with dengue remain symptom-free. If illness develops, it usually begins suddenly with a high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash. Most infections are self-limiting, with a rapid recovery three to four days after the rash appears.

A small number of infected people develop a severe illness called severe dengue (previously sometimes known as dengue haemorrhagic fever). Symptoms include dangerously low blood pressure (shock), fluid build-up in the lungs and severe bleeding (haemorrhage). All four types of dengue virus infection can cause either dengue or severe dengue.

There is no specific drug treatment for severe dengue illness, but supportive treatment for shock and bleeding improves survival. Without this, severe dengue illness can be fatal.

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