Significant increase in dengue fever cases in Germany – tiger mosquitoes have already caused an uproar on Lake Garda

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Over 30 cases of dengue fever have already been reported in Germany in 2024. The tiger mosquito that transmits the virus can now also be found in Germany.

Munich – Dengue fever is a disease that previously only had to be worried about when traveling to the tropics. However, due to climate change, the mosquito species that transmit the virus are becoming more and more widespread. Every year between 284 and 528 million people worldwide become infected with the virus. In There is currently an increase in reported cases in Germany.

Significantly more dengue fever cases recorded – highest number since 2001

39 cases of the potentially fatal tropical disease have already been registered in the capital Berlin this year. This is according to the State Office for Health and Social Affairs (Lageso) a significant increase compared to the period before the corona pandemic. For comparison: between 2015 and 2019, the average value was 18. Two of those affected had to be treated in hospital this year. Also the WHO warns about the virus.

In the last reporting week at the end of March alone, 13 cases were reported. Of these, only one has been confirmed so far, further confirmations are still pending. According to Lageso, this is the highest number ever reported since the Infection Protection Act came into force in 2001.

The Asian tiger mosquito can transmit dengue viruses to humans through a bite – if it is infected. © Imago

Two species of mosquitoes transmit dengue fever – one of which can now also be found in Germany

The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) or the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). The Tropical Institute informs: “An infected mosquito can transmit the virus for the rest of its life.” Transmission from person to person is not possible.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the virus was only found in tropical and subtropical regions for a long time. However, in recent decades, dengue fever has spread geographically. This is due, among other things, to the effects of climate change, which are creating more favorable conditions for mosquitoes due to rising temperatures and heat waves. According to the RKI, the Asian tiger mosquito is now in its 13th year EUcountries (as of 2023). The mosquito is also spreading more and more in Germany. Last year there was even Dengue fever cases on Lake Garda.

Vaccinations against and symptoms of dengue fever

  • Sudden fever
  • skin rash
  • Severe muscle pain
  • nausea
  • Vomit

Most symptoms disappear quickly. However, in rare but severe cases, dengue hemorrhagic fever can occur. Young adults and children are particularly affected. Internal bleeding may occur days after the fever. There is a disruption in the blood platelets, which leads to poorer blood flow to the organs. Circulatory failure (dengue shock syndrome) can occur within a few days. Without appropriate treatment, 40 to 50 percent of cases are fatal.

Two vaccines are currently approved in the EU. The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) recommends vaccination especially for trips to dengue-endemic areas. Re-infection with the virus can increase the risk of severe disease ninefold.

More dengue fever cases across Europe

The cases reported in Germany were infected abroad. Last year, according to the RKI Increased infections after traveling to Egypt noted. Therefore, consistent mosquito protection on the entire body is essential in affected regions, for example by wearing long-sleeved clothing or using mosquito spray. The risk of infection depends, among other things, on the country you are traveling to, the duration of the trip, the season and the current dengue activity. In principle, however, it is rare for travelers to become seriously ill or die from it.

Brazil is one of the best-known risk areas. This year, the South American country experienced what was probably the worst outbreak in its history. By the end of March, 1.9 million probable infections with the dengue virus had been recorded. Heavy rains and high temperatures in recent months could be the cause. The numbers have also recently increased in Argentina and Peru.

Although most people become infected with dengue abroad, according to Lageso, there is a risk that people in Germany could also become infected with dengue fever in the long term. (kas/sp/dpa)

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