issue. Dengue fever warning in France: Why ‘exceptional’ increase in pollution in 2022 worries health authorities

In a study published on Tuesday, July 11, the French public health authority described an “exceptional” increase in dengue cases registered in the country in 2022. Several hundred imported cases were identified and dozens of original infections were discovered. Health authorities want to improve the monitoring system.

Is the fever spreading across France? Dengue fever, long known in the West Indies, Southeast Asia and South America, seems to be taking an increasingly familiar place in the viral disease landscape prevalent in France. Evidence for this is the “extraordinary” The explosion of pollution cases recorded in 2022 by French public health teams : 378 imported cases of dengue fever were detected on the national territory in this year alone. But health authorities are primarily interested in indigenous dengue cases, that is, people who have contracted the disease without having traveled. In 2022, in France, 66 patients were in this condition, while the health authorities listed only 48 within ten years, from 2010 to 2021.

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This phenomenon has given a difficult time to the structures responsible for monitoring viral circulation and identifying cases of infection in the country: in 2022, “there has been a real saturation of resources,” breathes Clementine Calpa, responsible for scientific studies in public health and epidemiology. , explaining, among other things, that tracking and monitoring pollution has become a particularly sensitive matter. This was particularly the case in Occitania and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, two regions where dangerous “limits” were established in the past year, according to French public health comments.

whose fault is it? The culprit is only a few millimeters long… The tiger mosquito, which has been breeding in France since 2004, continues its indescribable expansion in France. The Diptera bug is also a vector for other viruses such as Chikungunya – 23 cases of contamination were detected in 2022 – and Zika. As of January 1, 2023, the tiger mosquito was considered to be established and active in 71 of the 96 metropolitan districts, ranging from the Paris region to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The modus operandi is well established: dengue is transmitted exclusively by females: the disease is often mild but people infected a second time have an increased risk of developing a severe form of the disease.


It remains to be seen whether this phenomenon, “exceptional” in 2022, can finally become the norm. In practice, dengue is not meant to settle permanently in France: “We are fortunate that the winters are relatively cold here. If we notice a significant viral spread in France, it will stop at some point,” comments the epidemiologist. However, the risk of transmission in the territory, Especially due to the import of the virus on our land, it could increase in the coming years. How about 2023? ”It is still difficult to answer this question, interspersed with Clementine Calpa. There are many factors that come into play. It only takes one unreported case for the transmission chain to occur. »

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Enough to encourage researchers to raise awareness not only with the population so they don’t hesitate to consult…but also with health professionals. “Dengue is still a tropical disease, and there is a certain ignorance of this subject in France,” admits Clementine Calpa.

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