By Alyah Khan
Dengue is not just a disease that affects developing countries. There have been cases of dengue in the United States and Europe. Most recently, dengue has become a problem in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, a popular tourist destination that lies north of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean.
News of a dengue outbreak in Madeira first surfaced in October and cases of the disease have steadily increased over the last two months.
As of November 25, a total of 1,819 dengue cases were reported in Madeira, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Additionally, 43 cases of dengue have been recorded among European travelers returning from the island since the start of the outbreak. Travelers from mainland Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden and France have reportedly contracted dengue while visiting the island.
The ECDC said that the presence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the primary vector for transmission of the virus, has been documented in Madeira since 2005.
The Portugal News reported that the dengue infections among those in Madeira “mark the first sustained transmission of dengue in the European Union since the 1920s.”
The Portugal News added that Portuguese and regional health authorities have been “implementing control measures to limit extension of the outbreak to reduce the risk of sustained transmission locally and that of exportation of infected vectors from the island.” Details on what exactly health authorities are doing to contain the outbreak are scarce in online news reports.
The outbreak in Madeira is raising concerns about the spread of dengue to other parts of Europe.
In response, the World Health Organization has encouraged public health authorities in neighboring geographical areas and countries to assess the risk for the introduction of dengue in their territories. Reuters reported that the first local transmissions of dengue in Europe were recorded in France and Croatia in 2010.
Thus far, there have been no travel advisories or restrictions issued for Madeira.