Tourists visiting southern Europe for their holidays have been issued an urgent warning, following an outbreak of a deadly disease in three countries.

Italy, France and Spain have all reported cases of dengue fever, a virus which causes a high fever, headache, rash and fatigue. Italy has seen 66 cases, France 36 and there have been three in Spain.

However, health officials have become concerned as around half the cases would be asymptomatic, leading to fears that the actual number of cases could be much higher.

If the disease develops, in severe cases it can cause shock, internal bleeding and even death.

The disease is not serious for most people, but those who are immunocompromised, infants and pregnant women are most at risk of serious complications if they contract the disease.

Between two and three per cent of people who contract the disease die, and it kills around 40,000 people worldwide a year.

The tropical disease is usually confined to Latin America, Africa and Asia, where it continues to wreak havoc, but has now jumped to Europe.

As with other tropical diseases such as Zika or yellow fever, dengue is transmitted through the tiger mosquito, a species that lives in warm, humid areas.

It is believed that the disease has spread due to climate change and easing of Covid-19 restrictions – which increased the amount of travel taking place.

María Velasco, spokeswoman for the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology (Seimc), said: “On the one hand, the end of restrictions against Covid-19 has increased travel and allowed infected people to travel to Europe, where transmission has begun.

“In addition, climate change has raised the temperature, which allows mosquitoes to survive longer and breed better.

“And finally, through the importation of products such as bamboo, or on the wheels of cars, or in containers carrying tyres, [mosquitos] has been able to circulate very easily.”

The mosquito is also no longer only living in coastal areas and has begun to travel inland. The three cases in Spain have been reported in Catalonia, two of which in the Barcelona town of Malgrat de Mar.

Authorities hope that as temperatures drop in the coming weeks, the mosquitos will die of and the outbreak will be contained.

The most common method of prevention against the disease is vaccination, however it is only administered to people visiting areas where the disease is rife.

Meanwhile, those who have been infected with the disease are being urged to use mosquito repellent to stop the chain of transmission. However, there are no specific treatments, but instead those infected are prescribed painkillers.

The symptoms of dengue fever to look out for are a sudden onset of feverof more than 37.7ºC, accompanied by two of the following other symptoms:

  • severe headache
  • pain behind the eyeballs
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rash
  • muscle and joint pain

Source: | This article first appeared on

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