Dengue fever in Europe: could there be an epidemic in the future?

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Abstract

Dengue virus (DENV) is the arbovirus with the widest impact on human health. Although its dispersal is partially conditioned by environmental constraints that limit the distribution of its main vector (Aedes aegypti), DENV has been spreading geographically in recent times, but mostly afflicting tropical and subtropical regions. With no prophylactic vaccine or specific therapeutics available, vector control remains the best alternative to restrain its circulation. Moreover, the establishment of thriving vector populations in peri urban environments brings humans and viruses together, opening the possibility for the occurrence of unexpected outbreaks. Europe is no exception: such was the case of Madeira in 2012. In addition to its impact on the health of the local population, health services, and economy, this outbreak revealed how difficult it may be to control the circulation of pathogenic arboviruses, especially taking into consideration that Europe is already partially colonized by another DENV vector, Aedes albopictus.

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