Doctors on the French Riviera have treated 17 people for dengue fever and chikungunya this year, amid fears that a decade-long invasion of Asian tiger mosquitoes in the region could spread the tropical diseases.
All of the infected patients had visited Brazil, where they went to see the Football World Cup, and the Caribbean.
Four of them had dengue fever and 11 contracted chikungunya. Two unlucky victims came back infected with both.
The presence of Asian tiger mosquitoes in France is proving a big concern to health services because unlike native species they are able to transmit both dengue and chikungunya.
The Asian tiger mosquito, which has distinctive black and white stripes, was introduced to Europe in the late 1970s via a goods shipment from China to Albania.
A subsequent introduction in Italy in the 1990s, thought to be from larvae in a delivery of car tyres from the USA, led to a population explosion in Italy which gradually spread.
First seen in France in 2004, the mosquitoes have now firmly established themselves along France’s Mediterranean coast and are moving up the Rhône valley.
In 2010, two cases of Dengue were contracted in the Riviera after mosquito bites in France itself, a nightmare scenario for local health services.
The response in the Alpes-Maritimes administrative region is aggressive.
In some cases, powerful insecticides are used to drench a 500 metre radius around the infected person to kill all mosquitoes and so guarantee the disease does not spread, according to local daily Nice Matin.
“More than that isn’t really necessary,” Dr Fabien Josserand of the regional council told the newspaper. “Asian tiger mosquitoes do not spread fast and rarely if ever fly more than 100 metres from where they hatch.”
An estimated 400,000 French tourists visit regions with dengue fever and chikungunya every year.
Date created : 2014-08-07