Communicable disease threats report, 7-13 October 2012, week 41

Surveillance report
Publication series: Communicable Disease Threats Report (CDTR)

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. Summarising information gathered by ECDC through its epidemic intelligence activities regarding communicable disease threats of concern to the European Union, it also provides updates on the global situation and changes in the epidemiology of communicable diseases with potential to affect Europe, including diseases that are the focus of eradication efforts.

Executive summary

On 3 October 2012, the Portuguese public health authorities reported two cases of dengue infection in patients residing in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, Portugal. By 10 October, 18 cases were confirmed and 191 probable cases were under investigation. Since the first two cases were identified, 26 persons have been hospitalised.  

ECDC’s rapid risk assessment concludes that this is a significant public health event, as it is the first known occurrence of autochthonous dengue infection in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, and consequently a new geographical area reporting autochthonous cases in the EU. Likewise, due to the confirmed presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a competent vector for dengue, this is not entirely unexpected and additional cases may be seen in the coming weeks. Since June 2012, eleven autochthonous cases of malaria, caused by Plasmodium vivax infection, have been reported from Greece in patients who did not have a history of travel to endemic areas. In addition, forty-eight imported cases have been reported so far this year.  

Local control measures have been implemented in accordance with national guidelines and active screening of neighbours and seasonal immigrants is being carried out to detect malarial infection. ECDC has been requested to provide technical support to the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and is in close communication with them to see where this can best be provided. Between 5 and 11 October, Italy reported four new West Nile fever (WNF) cases and Greece reported five additional ones. In countries neighbouring the EU, 15 new cases were notified by various federal regions of Russia. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reported one new case and Tunisia reported eleven new cases.

The epidemiology of West Nile virus (WNV) in Europe is still evolving and is not yet fully understood. On 13 July, ECDC updated its rapid risk assessment concerning the epidemiological situation of WNV infection in the EU regarding affected areas. Furthermore, a large gastroenteritis outbreak affected kindergarten and school children in five federal states in eastern Germany. More than 11 000 cases were reported during the outbreak, which appears to be over. The Robert Koch Institute suggests there is strong evidence that compote made from frozen strawberries from a specific lot was the vehicle of infection.


ECDC_CDTR_13.10.12.pdf - EN - [PDF-239.06 KB]