From 13 to 18 January 2013, ECDC monitored several on-going public health threats within and outside the European Union.
Following the 2009 pandemic, influenza transmission in Europe has returned to its seasonal epidemic pattern, with peak activity seen during winter months. Of 26 countries that reported clinical data in week 2/2013, 14 reported medium- or high-intensity transmission and 19 reported increasing influenza trends. The virological pattern being identified across Europe is different from that being reported so far from North America. ECDC monitors influenza activity in Europe during the winter seasons and publishes the results in the Weekly Influenza Surveillance Overview.
Since the beginning of the dengue outbreak in the Autonomous Region of Madeira in October 2012, 2 144 dengue infections have been reported from the public health sector on the island. As of 17 January 2013, 74 patients have been diagnosed with dengue after returning from Madeira: 10 in Portugal, 23 in the UK, 19 in Germany, three in France, five in Sweden, four in Finland, two in Denmark, two in Austria, and two in Norway. Croatia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland have all reported one case each. The last reported case was on 3 January 2013.
These figures indicate that the outbreak has peaked, with a decrease in the number of cases being reported since mid-November. Entomological surveillance has shown a decrease in mosquito activity as well. However, residents and travellers visiting the island of Madeira are strongly advised to take individual protective measures, like using repellents, to avoid mosquito bites. Since dengue is transmitted by a daytime mosquito (Aedes aegypti) protective measures should be applied throughout the whole day.
Following the report of 51 confirmed cholera cases in Havana, Cuba, ECDC updated its 2012 rapid risk assessment on an outbreak of cholera to assess the potential risk for European travellers. When ECDC first assessed a reported cholera outbreak in July 2012, no cases were reported from Havana. About half of the tourists visiting Cuba travel to Havana. However, the overall risk of infection should still be considered low for tourists.
Travellers to Cuba should seek advice from travel medicine clinics to assess their personal risk. In general, applying suitable preventive hygiene measures plays a key role in the prevention of cholera. Visitors to cholera-endemic or cholera-epidemic countries should always follow appropriate precautionary measures and drink only safe water (bottled water/water treated with chlorine), wash all fruits and vegetables with bottled or chlorinated water before consumption, regularly wash hands, avoid consuming raw sea-food products, and only eat sea food when it is thoroughly cooked.
The ECDC communicable disease threats report is a weekly bulletin intended for epidemiologists and health professionals in the area of communicable disease prevention and control.
Read the full Communicable Disease Threats Report, week 3/2013
Weekly influenza surveillance overview: Seasonal influenza increasing in a number of European countries, 11 January 2013
Influenza virus characterisation: Summary Europe December 2012
Watch ECDC video on seasonal influenza
View influenza surveillance maps
Updated assessment of cholera in Cuba – risk remains low for European travellers
More information on cholera