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Brazil’s dengue and Zika epidemic and its possible spread to Europe

Question écrite de Mme Stefania ZAMBELLI - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Stefania ZAMBELLI,

Diffusée le 12 mars 2024

Subject: Brazil’s dengue and Zika epidemic and its possible spread to Europe

Brazil’s current dengue and Zika epidemic is a growing cause of concern that poses a potential threat to Europe too.

The most recent data from Brazil’s Ministry of Health confirms that the dengue epidemic has already claimed 391 lives this year. A further 854 deaths are still under investigation. The number of suspected cases exceeds 1.5 million, of which 12 000 are serious.

Given that the viruses can be spread by mosquitoes and as people travel around, this state of affairs is deeply alarming – not only for Brazil but also for Europe.

The symptoms of dengue include high fever, a severe headache, eye pain, muscle ache, joint pain, nausea, vomiting and skin irritation. With the Zika virus disease, by contrast, an estimated 80% of cases are asymptomatic. Those that are symptomatic, however, might look like the flu, accompanied by a rash, artralgia, mialgia, a headache and conjunctivitis.

In the light of the worrying figures set out above, will the Commission outline the steps it is going to take to monitor and prevent the spread of these diseases in Europe, as well as the strategies for a timely diagnosis and effective treatment of suspected cases?


Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 3 juin 2024

Answer given by Ms Kyriakides on behalf of the European Commission (4 June 2024)

The Commission is aware of the rising number of dengue cases in South America. The EU Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) is activated for dengue cases detected in the EU and overseas territories.

Since 2022, locally acquired dengue cases were declared by Italy, France and Spain. Health surveillance has been scaled up at airports and ports to prevent the spread of the infection, including disinsection (1).

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) produces monthly (2) and annual reports (3). The ECDC also manages an Expert Laboratory Network on Emerging Viral Diseases (EVD-LabNet) (4), which is a multi-disciplinary network of expert laboratories aiming to strengthen Europe’s laboratory capacity and capability to respond to emerging, re-emerging, and vector-borne viral disease threats.

In 2023, an external quality assessment for molecular detection of dengue and other viruses was initiated with over 30 national laboratories participating. The report is expected to be available by end of 2024.

ECDC hosted a workshop in April 2024 (5) to build knowledge with Member States that are at higher risk of locally acquired dengue cases (6).

The ECDC is furthermore raising awareness on the emerging threat of mosquito-borne diseases and the risks for traveller s (7). By the end of 2024, ECDC will make available a risk assessment tool for Aedes-borne diseases.

The Commission also seeks to support Member States in controlling and monitoring disease-transmitting vectors. Via the EU4Health Programme, the Commission is financing in 2024 a pilot project for testing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) approach as tool to suppress yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) on Cyprus and to build capacity for the use of this vector control technique in the Union (8).

1 ∙ ⸱ WHO aircraft disinsection methods and procedures, 2nd ed

2 ∙ ⸱

3 ∙ ⸱

4 ∙ ⸱

5 ∙ ⸱

6 ∙ ⸱

7 ∙ ⸱

8 ∙ ⸱, p. 68.

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