Tiger mosquito spread leads to Spain’s first domestic case, writes David Ing
More than two-thirds of the 45 municipal districts in Murcia, a region at the centre of the first cases of domestically-spread dengue to be detected in Spain, have breeding populations of the Tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) that carries the virus.
The figure was revealed by Director-General of public health José Carlos Vicente López on 14 November, in a statement to the regional government assembly on the virus (which was originally reported at the start of October).
The first patients, members of the same family, out of a total of five who have been confirmed as suffering dengue, had been travelling around southern Spain, he said: “They moved around different places and it is most likely that contagion took place in the west of [the neighbouring region of] Andalucia, although it cannot be ruled out that it happened in Murcia.”
Public places were already being monitored and fumigated following the zika scare that started in Brazil in 2016, another virus propagated by the Tiger. The main danger came from humid sites on private land.
As part of an ongoing national plan to track the spread of the mosquito, breeding had been detected in 31 of 45 districts in the region, said Vicente López. Most of the insects appeared between May and October, but because of Murcia’s warm Mediterranean location in south east Spain, they could be found there as late as December.
Under a national Ministry of Health preparation and response plan, health professionals have been alerted to keep a look out for further cases in the future.
Those cases reported so far had been ‘light’ ones, although the director-general warned that there is a possibility of a more serious strain developing. The flu-like symptoms of dengue usually occur between three to 14 days after being bitten.
Aedes albopictus has been extending its range around the popular holiday areas of the western Mediterranean in recent years. Similar sporadic cases of locally-transmitted dengue have been reported from France and Italy since 2010, so its occurrence in Spain ‘was foreseeable’, according to Vicente López.