Dengue epidemic in Reunion how big and what dangers

Reunion is facing a dengue epidemic, with 1,388 cases since the beginning of the year. This is the worst spread of the virus since the 1970s.

The authorities of Reunion are worried. The epidemic of dengue “intensifies in the west and the south,” alerted the prefecture Tuesday. A total of 1,388 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the year, the worst spread seen on the island since the 1970s.

Just for the week of April 9 to 15, according to the prefecture, “396 cases of dengue fever have been reported by city and hospital laboratories”. And the comparison with the statistics of the other years is dizzying. The disease knew “a small circulation”, with a peak to 228 cases in 2004, according to the figures of the Regional Agency of Indian Ocean Health (ARS). Europe 1 takes stock of the situation in Reunion Island and this disease that affects 50 million people worldwide each year.

What is the situation in Reunion?
Faced with the worsening of the epidemic, the prefecture and the ARS decided on March 26 to activate level 3 of the Orsec plan for the fight against arboviroses (a term for the viral disease). The ARS vector control teams are carrying out numerous interventions to eliminate insects around the affected houses, by insecticide treatments, and have destroyed more than 3,000 sites containing mosquito larvae since the beginning of the year.

The crisis is unprecedented for Reunion, where the number of people affected usually decreases at the end of December. “The austral winter has not stopped the epidemic as it usually does and we are in a transmission level that is reminiscent of the chikungunya epidemic in 2005-2006,” explains researcher Frédéric Simard. at the IRD Montpellier. The persistence of foci of transmission is therefore feared by the IRD “a major epidemic crisis during the rainy season, conducive to increasing the density of mosquitoes, vectors of the virus,” said the Institute in a statement. High temperatures and humidity are favorable for the development of the tiger mosquito.

Another aggravating factor: the population of Réunion is not immune to the virus, notes Public Health France, indicating that “only 3.1% of blood donors, tested in 2008, had antibodies against the virus

What are the symptoms of the virus and how can it be avoided?
Also known as “tropical flu”, dengue is “a viral disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes (or tiger mosquito), says the Institut Pasteur on its website.” Fifty million cases are recorded each year by the WHO.

Headache, nausea and vomiting. According to the Institute, dengue occurs “suddenly after two to seven days of incubation by the appearance of a high fever, often accompanied by headache, nausea, vomiting, joint and muscle pain, and a rash resembling that of measles “. But the classic form of dengue fever is not considered a severe disease.

On the other hand, dengue fever can become fatal when it becomes hemorrhagic. These haemorrhages can be “gastrointestinal, cutaneous, and cerebral”. In this case, “the only solution is to be near a hospital to be able to benefit from blood transfusions, and a monitoring of disorders of the metabolism”, explained to the Express Anna Bella Failloux, entomologist at the Institut Pasteur . WHO estimates that there are 500,000 cases of dengue haemorrhagic fever, more than 2.5% of which are fatal.

Public Health France recalls basic preventive measures to prevent contracting the virus. The Reunionese are therefore invited to protect themselves from bites, but also to “eliminate water containers” around houses, and “waste favoring breeding sites