The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided news on dengue fever in Réunion, France, reporting that the upsurge in cases since the beginning of 2018 is unprecedented.
On 16 March, WHO was notified by the International Health Regulations National Focal Point for France through the European Commission Early Warning and Response System of a sharp increase in the number of dengue cases reported in Réunion, France since the beginning of the year. There have been 1,816 cases in Réunion as of 23 April, while fewer than 100 cases were reported in the entirety of 2017. In addition, the number of emergency room visits and hospitalisations related to dengue have been increasing, with 50 reported hospitalisations so far in 2018, compared to 12 for all of 2017.
According to WHO, public health authorities have implemented the following actions in Réunion: reinforced vector control measures, focusing primarily on areas around reported dengue cases; enhanced surveillance of cases; blood and safety of substances of human origin safety measures; social mobilisation activities; and specific risk communication messages aiming to raise dengue fever awareness among the public and health workers.
WHO said that Réunion is a popular tourist destination and the likelihood of dengue being introduced to other countries is heightened by the current outbreak. It also said that enhanced risk communication and entomological and epidemiological surveillance to rapidly and effectively control the epidemic are required.
Travellers are advised by WHO to take personal protective measures such as the use of clothing that minimises skin exposure during daylight hours and using insecticide-treated mosquito nets. It has advised against any restrictions on travel to Réunion based on the information available.