Dengue, test hypothesis at the airport for those arriving from risk areas: the circular is arriving

About a month after the issue of the first circular on Dengue on the part of the Prevention directorate of the Ministry of Health – which has increased the alert in Italian ports and airports – the issuing of a second circular is imminent in the early days of next week. After the previous one, which prescribed the disinfection of aircraft and ships arriving from countries at risk, including cruise ships, the new circular should include the use of rapid sample tests on passengers arriving from risk areas. It is planned to start with a sample airport: the hypothesis is to start fromFiumicino international airport.

More checks are coming and the testing of rapid tests

The new circular has been designed with the aim of strengthen controls at ports and airports through the action of the staff of the Usmaf-Sasn (Maritime, Air and Border Health Offices), with the aim of intensifying the fight against the mosquito Aedes aegypti and to prevent the entry of the Dengue fever vector into Italy. Particular attention is paid to the expansion of disinfestation operations on aircraft and ships, including cruise ships. At the same time, we are evaluating the testing of a rapid test at the airport for travelers coming from risk areas, which will be carried out on a voluntary basis and through sampling.

During 2023, they were reported in Italy 362 cases of Dengue, of which eighty-two are of indigenous origin. These joint efforts aim to further strengthen preventive and control measures, ensuring greater health safety on the national territory.

The line adopted by the general directorate of prevention of the Ministry of Health, under the leadership of Francesco Vaia, is not aimed at generating alarmism, but rather at promoting preventive measures in order to avoid finding ourselves unprepared in the event of an increase in cases. “As of February 21, 2024, they were in the national territory 48 confirmed cases of Dengue identified, all imported. In light of this overview, I reiterate that the current situation in Italy does not cause alarm”, declared the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci, responding in the Senate on 22 February to a question on the topic of Dengue.

Dengue runs in South America

The growing spread of Dengue in South America is raising concerns among international health authorities, who fear its possible endemicity in other regions of the world, including Italy. Currently, the government of Guatemala has declared a state of alert epidemiological due to the increase in cases of Dengue fever in the country, with already 7,000 cases and three deaths recorded. The main objective of this measure is to ensure a faster administrative response to the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, in the most populous state of Brazil, Sao Paulo, emergency declared for Dengue, with a frequency of 311 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. “We are facing an epidemic situation, as defined by the WHO based on the number of confirmed cases,” said Regiane de Paula, coordinator of Disease Control for the State of São Paulo. Peru has also declared a state of emergency in several areas of the country, while numerous outbreaks have also been reported in Argentina. These developments highlight the need to adopt more stringent preventive and control measures globally to combat the spread of Dengue.

How it is transmitted

Dengue is a viral disease spread mainly in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is estimated that approximately half of the world’s population lives in areas at risk of contracting the infection. Although known for over two centuries, in recent decades there has been an increase in its diffusion.

Currently, they are registering numerous epidemic outbreaks in different parts of the world, in particular in Central and South America, in some regions of Africa and in South-East Asia. However, smaller outbreaks have also been reported recently in Europe and the United States. Dengue is caused by a family of four similar viruses: Den-1, Den-2, Den-3 and Den-4. Transmission occurs mainly through the bite of an infected mosquito, in particular of the Aedes aegypti species, but also by Aedes albopictus.

After being bitten by an infected mosquito, the Dengue virus enters the host’s bloodstream, where it can persist on average for 2-7 days. If an infected person is then bitten by another mosquito, this can in turn transmit the virus to other people, who can become ill even without ever having visited areas endemic for Dengue infection. This mode of transmission represents one of the most significant characteristics of Dengue, as it allows rapid spread of the virus even in regions where the disease is not endemic, making the control of mosquito vector populations crucial to prevent epidemics and outbreaks.

Symptoms of Dengue and how it is treated

After being bitten by an infected mosquito, Dengue symptoms can appear within 5-6 days. The main symptom is fever, often accompanied by other symptoms including headache, pain around and behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and skin rashes. In children, many of these symptoms may not be noticeable or may be less pronounced.

Dengue can manifest with a wide range of symptoms and the severity of the disease can range from mild to severe. In some cases, Dengue can lead to potentially fatal complications such as Dengue shock syndrome or Dengue hemorrhage. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor if you suspect you have Dengue or if you experience severe symptoms. Although the diagnosis of Dengue is often made based on the symptoms observed, laboratory tests can be used for definitive confirmation. These tests can detect the presence of the virus or specific antibodies in the patient’s blood.

Currently, There is no specific antiviral treatment for Dengue and patient management focuses primarily on relieving symptoms. It is advisable to ensure adequate rest, administer medications to reduce fever and maintain good hydration levels. In some cases, the disease can progress to a severe form in which hemorrhagic symptoms occur. In these situations, severe Dengue represents a medical emergency and the patient must be hospitalized to receive intensive care. Although most cases of dengue are not fatal, in rare cases the disease can lead to serious, life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully monitor symptoms and seek immediate medical attention if the patient’s condition worsens.