A woman from the UK was infected with dengue fever while on holiday in the south of France, as researchers warn the disease is becoming more prevalent in parts of Europe due to climate change.
The woman, who has not been identified, was infected with the tropical disease during a trip to Nice in September 2022.
The 44-year-old experienced fever, headache, muscle pain and a rash for three days but did not require further medical treatment.
Her diagnosis was made by the UK’s Rare Imported Pathogens Laboratory when she visited an emergency department after returning home.
“This individual was part of an outbreak of over 30 locally transmitted cases in the south of France in 2022, which highlights the rapidly changing epidemiology of dengue,” Owain Donnelly, of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London, said.
“With climate change, particularly hotter temperatures and more rainfall, and increasing global trade and tourism, we may see more parts of Europe with the right combination of factors for dengue outbreaks.
“Surveillance and reporting mechanisms are important in ensuring we have an accurate understanding of dengue spread.”
The woman had returned from the south of France the day before symptoms started and had not travelled to any other countries.
Family she stayed with in France also experienced similar symptoms.
Dengue fever is spread by the bite of mosquitoes infected with the dengue virus, typically in tropical regions in Asia and South America.
However climate change has led to the increased presence of the Asian tiger mosquito, a carrier of the disease, throughout southern Europe.
Most UK infections of the virus are diagnosed in travellers who have recently visited these regions.
It has flu-like symptoms but an estimated 75 per cent of cases are asymptomatic and can go undetected.
In severe cases, 1 to 5 per cent of patients develop potentially fatal severe dengue or dengue haemorrhagic fever.
The case was presented by Dr Donnelly to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Copenhagen.
Between June and September 2022, the Agence Regionale de Sante (ARS) in France reported three separate outbreaks of dengue virus transmission contracted on national territory, without patients having travelled abroad.