On 13 September 2010, the French Ministry of Health reported the first case of dengue fever from autochthonous transmission in metropolitan France. The case resided in Nice and developed symptoms in August 2010, but has since fully recovered. Laboratory tests confirmed dengue infection in early September.
This event is not unexpected in the southern part of the country which has a high number of imported dengue cases from other dengue-endemic areas each year and where Aedes albopictus, a known, but less efficient vector of dengue virus than Aedes aegypti, is established. Even so it is an important public health event as it is the first time that autochthonous natural transmission of dengue virus has been reported in continental Europe since 1927-1928 when large dengue outbreaks occurred in Greece.
In response to this event, the French authorities have strengthened epidemiological and entomological surveillance in the Department of Alpes-Maritimes, vector control is being implemented in the area around the residence of the reported case and communication campaigns for the general public and health workers are in place. No further cases have been reported so far.
Dengue is a vector-borne disease which is usually transmitted by the bites of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes of the species Aedes aegypti have usually been implicated in large outbreaks, but Aedes albopictus is also known to transmit the virus to humans. The disease presents as an acute illness with symptoms including fever, headache and body pains and affects persons of all ages. In a small proportion of cases it can develop into a hemorrhagic form, sometimes leading to death.
ECDC fact sheet for health professionals on dengue fever.
ECDC Aedes albopictus distribution maps (VBORNET maps).
Other public sources:
a) Institut Veille Sanitaire: Dengue general
b) Aedes albopictus distribution in France