TIGER BITES: First confirmed cases of dengue fever contracted in Spain

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MOZZIE BITE: Is the usual source of infection (File photograph). Photo credit: Shutterstock

TWO people from the same family have contracted dengue in Spain, according to sources from the Ministry of Health.

Dengue is a disease caused by a virus that is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Until now, all cases of dengue discovered in Spain were in patients who had travelled to countries where the disease is endemic.

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But Spain’s National Microbiology Centre has confirmed that both people infected with the dengue virus had recently travelled to Cadiz and Murcia in the south of Spain during the period in which they could have contracted the infection.

And now the Ministry of Health is investigating the areas where the infection may have been picked up.

A third member of the family, an adult woman, is also under observation after suffering “symptoms compatible with the disease.”

Its symptoms are similar to those of the flu but it is not transmitted from person to person and lacks specific treatment.

The disease, which originated in tropical areas has experienced a rapid expansion around the globe in the last few years but these are the first cases reported that have originated in Spain.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the disease, so medical care focuses on alleviating the symptoms and providing vital support in the most serious cases.

It is not transmitted from person to person.

Authorities believe the disease was most likely transmitted by a tiger mosquito, a species that was first detected in Spain in 2004 in Barcelona.

Dengue virus symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection.

These may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

Recovery generally takes two to seven days.

In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into the life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Treatment of acute dengue is supportive and includes giving fluid either by mouth or intravenously for mild or moderate disease.

For more severe cases a blood transfusion may be required.

About half a million people require admission to hospital a year.

Dengue has become a global problem since the Second World War and is common in more than 110 countries.

Each year between 50 and 528 million people are infected and approximately 10,000 to 20,000 die.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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