From Dengue Fever to Chikungunya, the Aedes mosquito transmits viruses which affect millions of individuals each year. The Aedes Albopictus or Tiger Mosquito, has evolved to flourish in cooler climates than the Aedes Egypti mosquito, which is responsible for the lion’s share of transmission in more tropical regions.
Public Health scientists are concerned that infections acquired by returning travellers, bitten in tropical countries, may spread to local, cool-dwelling tiger mosquitos - when they bite the returned traveller on home turf. These local Aedes mosquitos could then start an epidemic in countries that are usually too cool for the disease.
Two recent outbreaks of Dengue Fever in Japan and France demonstrate that this is more than a theoretical proposition. Yoyogi Park in Tokyo has recently been ordered shut and mosquito control measures instigated, to counter the spread of Dengue which has affected 113 people to date. There are far fewer cases in France at present - just 4 infected individuals, all coming from the Var region of Provence.
Initially presenting as a flu-like illness, susceptible individuals can suffer derangement in clotting processes leading to haemorrhage, as multi-organ failure progresses. Fatalities are rare but as the disease is thought to infect between 50 to 100 million patients worldwide each year - 20,000 deaths occur around the globe annually. Prevention strategies include wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers, using DEET containing mosquito-repellents and the use of nets and air conditioning if available.
Written by Dr Simon Worrell BSc MBBS MRCP, Head of Medical Communications, Healix International.
© Healix International 2014. All rights reserved.