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Expat Exchange - Dengue Virus in France
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Bergerac, Dordogne, France


Dengue Virus in France

By Joshua Wood, LPC

French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

Summary: In France, the dengue virus, transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, poses a health risk. Familiarizing yourself with the signs of dengue and implementing effective measures to prevent mosquito bites is essential for residents and visitors alike.

Dengue virus, a mosquito-borne disease that has long been a significant health concern in tropical and subtropical regions, has made its presence known in France, albeit in a limited capacity. Characterized by high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, rash, and mild bleeding, dengue can range from a mild illness to a potentially life-threatening condition known as severe dengue. With globalization and climate change influencing the spread of the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the virus, it is crucial to understand the implications of dengue in France, its symptoms, and the measures that can be taken to prevent and manage the disease.

What is Dengue Disease?

Dengue disease is an illness caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The symptoms of dengue typically begin 4-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include a sudden high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever, and mild bleeding (such as nosebleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising). While most people recover within a week or two, a small percentage can develop severe dengue, which can result in shock, internal bleeding, and even death. There are no specific antiviral treatments for dengue; thus, medical care is focused on relieving symptoms and supporting the patient's immune system.

Where is Dengue Most Prevalent in France?

In France, dengue is not endemic, meaning it is not regularly found in the local population. However, occasional outbreaks have occurred, primarily in the overseas departments and territories of France, such as French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and RĂ©union, where the climate is more conducive to the Aedes mosquitoes. In mainland France, dengue cases are typically imported by travelers returning from endemic areas. Nevertheless, there have been instances of local transmission in the mainland, particularly in the southeastern regions where the Aedes albopictus mosquito is established. Vigilance and mosquito control measures are essential to prevent the spread of dengue in these areas.

How do Expats in France Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expatriates living in France, especially in regions where the Aedes mosquitoes are present, can take several precautions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of contracting dengue. These measures include using mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus; wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants; using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Additionally, during outbreaks or in areas with a high risk of dengue, expats should be extra vigilant and follow any additional guidelines provided by local health authorities.

What if I Get Dengue Virus in France?

If you suspect you have contracted dengue virus while in France, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of dengue should not be ignored, as the disease can progress to severe dengue, which requires prompt medical intervention. A healthcare provider will likely perform a blood test to confirm the diagnosis and provide supportive care to manage symptoms. Rest, hydration, and medications such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain are commonly recommended. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided due to the risk of bleeding. If you are diagnosed with dengue, it is also important to protect yourself from further mosquito bites to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

Is Dengue Virus Contagious?

Dengue virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. The only way the virus can be transmitted is through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. When a mosquito bites a person infected with dengue virus, the mosquito can become a carrier of the virus and can then transmit it to other people through bites. This is why controlling mosquito populations and preventing bites are critical in stopping the spread of dengue.

Is Dengue Virus More Dangerous for Children, Elderly, or Immune-Compromised?

Dengue virus can be more dangerous for certain groups of people, including children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems. These groups are at a higher risk of developing severe dengue, which can lead to serious complications and even death. Children, in particular, may not have fully developed immune systems and are less able to cope with the virus. The elderly may have underlying health conditions that can be exacerbated by dengue infection. Immune-compromised individuals, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those undergoing chemotherapy, may not be able to mount an effective immune response to the virus. It is crucial for these vulnerable populations to take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites and seek medical care promptly if symptoms of dengue appear.

In conclusion, while dengue virus is not endemic to mainland France, it poses a risk in overseas territories and can occasionally lead to local transmission in the mainland. Awareness of the disease, its symptoms, and preventive measures are essential for residents and expatriates alike. By taking proactive steps to avoid mosquito bites and seeking medical attention when necessary, the impact of dengue in France can be minimized.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
French Riviera House Hunting - FRH

Bergerac, Dordogne, France

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French Riviera House Hunting - FRH
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