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Saturday 23rd June 2018

Mosquito virus in Europe

10th September 2007

Health authorities are warning people travelling to Italy to protect themselves against mosquito bites, following the arrival of the mosquito-borne tropical virus chikungunya in the country.


This is the first time chikungunya, which is transmitted by the mosquito Aedes albopictus, has been confirmed in Europe. Its usual home is in countries bordering the Indian Ocean.

The Italian health ministry has so far confirmed around 160 cases of the debilitating disease in the northern Italian region of Ravenna, which the largest clusters of cases in the villages of Castiglione de Ravenna and Castiglione de Cervia.

The main symptoms of chikungunya, which comes from a Swahili word meaning "that which bends up", are a high fever, joint pain, together with headache, muscle aches, rash and sometimes an upset stomach. The name refers to the stooped posture adopted by patients due to arthritis-like symptoms.

One death has been reported, in an 83-year-old with existing medical conditions.

French chikungunya expert Antoine Flahault said the outbreak was the first time the disease had been found outside the usual tropical locations in East Africa and South Asia.

He wrote in a French medical journal that the extension of the disease was worrying but not alarming.

The European Centre for Disease Control has urged pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses to seek medical advice before visiting the area.

Flahault said the Ravenna outbreak was linked to a high density mosquito population in Ravenna. Increased temperatures and humidity reproduce tropical conditions, making the mosquitoes thrive.

There is no vaccine against chikungunya. Symptoms usually appear four to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito. The disease can take several weeks to run its course.

Local authorities in Ravenna are focusing on reducing the number of mosquitoes in the area.


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