We are searching data for your request:
Chikungunya: mosquitoes bring virus to Europe
Experts are currently warning that several Chikungunya infections have been registered in the Caribbean. Chikungunya fever is transmitted by various mosquitoes such as the tiger mosquito. This insect, originally native to Asia, has spread to other parts of the world in recent decades. They have also been sighted in southern Germany.
Pathogen has made a jump to the American continent Several Chikungunya infections have been registered in the Caribbean since December last year. The Düsseldorf Center for Travel Medicine (CRM) warns of this. The French part of St. Martin, where nearly 400 cases were reported by the end of January, was particularly affected, with further cases reported from Martinique, Guadeloupe, the Virgin Islands, Dominica and Saint-Barthélemy. The pathogen, which was originally native to Asia and Africa, has thus demonstrably made the leap to the American continent for the first time. Tomas Jelinek, the scientific director of CRM, expects the virus to spread further geographically. Especially in Central and South America, but also in Europe "there have already been transfers."
Sick people can hardly keep up because of the pain Chikungunya fever is transmitted, among other things, by the tiny Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which is only about five millimeters in size. "Chikungunya fever is a febrile illness that is characterized by severe muscle and joint pain," said Susanne Glasmacher, biologist and spokeswoman for the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin. "After an incubation period of three to seven days, the fever rises rapidly." Because of the severe pain in the muscles and joints, the patient can often hardly stand up. This fact also gave the disease its name, because in the language of a Bantu people, Chikungunya means something like: “The hunched over”. A disease can also lead to swelling of the lymph nodes, reddening of the skin, headache, bleeding from the mucous membranes in the nose or mouth, and stomach and bowel problems.
Americans and Europeans lack protection The virus was first discovered in East Africa in the 1950s and spread to West Africa, India and Southeast Asia, where it did not pose any particular problems, since the local population apparently encountered it early in its evolution and became immune to it has become him. However, the Americans and Europeans lack this protection. As scientists at the Pasteur Institute found out, the pathogen, which was originally transmitted primarily by the yellow fever mosquito, recorded a serious mutation around 2005. Accordingly, the pathogen has been able to reproduce optimally in the day-active Asian tiger mosquito.
Tiger mosquitoes found in southern Germany As a result of climate change and global trade routes, the tiger mosquito has long been spreading far away from the original area of origin. Eggs were first discovered by her in Baden-Württemberg in 2007, and four years later, female zoologists went online there, preferably at motorway service stations. Live specimens have also been caught in Bavaria. In the meantime, the mosquitoes are also native to other European regions and in 2007 there was an outbreak of fever in the Italian province of Ravenna with more than 200 registered cases.
There is no vaccination against Chikungunya fever yet There is no effective vaccination against Chikungunya fever yet. "It will probably take a few more years before there will be an approved vaccine, because such a vaccine must meet many requirements," said Susan Knoll from the Association of Researching Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa) in Berlin. The vaccine should ideally be able to fight the three previously known variants of the virus. And since the fever has so far mainly occurred in developing countries, it must also be inexpensive to manufacture. "Research on a vaccine is not only time-consuming, it also has to be worthwhile for industry," explained Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, working group leader for arboviruses at the Bernhard Nocht Institute in Hamburg.
Immune to life after surviving the disease A doctor who has already had to deal with the disease is the Munich tropical medicine specialist Nikolaus Frühwein. He has already handled several cases brought in by travelers. "Chikungunya is not as dangerous as dengue, but it is extremely uncomfortable because it is so painful," said Frühwein. The disease can currently only be treated symptomatically by the administration of painkillers and antipyretic. Although there is also a hemorrhagic form of fever, which can lead to life-threatening bleeding in the infected, the risk is low. "However, deaths have so far been very rare at Chikungunya," explained Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute. The disease subsided in most patients after a week or two and there was no damage. However, around five to ten percent of those infected suffer as a result of the disease for months, in rare cases even for years, from joint problems. On the positive side, however, it should be seen that those who have been infected with Chikungunya fever and survived the disease will be immune to it for life.
Protection against mosquito bites Experts such as CRM recommend that travelers who are in the main distribution areas of the mosquito be protected against bites. This is especially true in the affected regions in the Caribbean, but also in central Africa or in Southeast Asia. To protect yourself from the disease-transmitting mosquitoes, mosquito repellent sprays and lotions help, which should not only be applied to the skin and clothing in the evening. The agents should contain a high proportion of the active ingredient DEET, since this repels the annoying insects. Mosquito nets can also keep mosquitoes away. It is also recommended to wear light clothing that is better than dark or translucent. (sb)
Picture: Kerstin 197016351a2cc0b08c03>