AN Icelandic hospital has admitted to a ‘laboratory error’ after it falsely diagnosed three patients with Chikungunya earlier this month.
The nordic country activated a European alert on June 12 to warn Spain that a mother, 37, her son, 5 and a sister had caught the virus while in Alicante between May 17-31.
When returning to their country, the trio suffered fevers, rashes and joint pains compatible with the symptoms of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus.
A government official however has now said the diagnosis was a mistake.
“The laboratory has explained to us that it found the cause of the error, which has already been corrected,” the head of epidemiology at the Icelandic Ministry of Health, Thorolfur Gudnason, told El Pais.
“We have informed all relevant authorities of this unfortunate incident, including the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), WHO and the Spanish Ministry of Health.”
The mistaken alert, made public by the Valencian Generalitat on June 14, had great relevance since it would have been the first case of local transmission in Spain of Chikungunya.
The virus is endemic to tropical areas. It is only transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected person, containing its spread, but in recent years has seen outbreaks in Italy and France.
The Aedes albopictus, or tiger mosquito, is the native Asian species responsible for the virus.
Not native to Spain, it has colonised southern Europe in recent years due to travel and climate change.
“We are waiting to conclude the tests performed on blood samples at the National Microbiology Center, given the relevance of the case, to confirm that the cases are false positives and close this file,” said a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
This is the second erroneous diagnosis of Chikungunya in Valencia.
On August 3, 2015, it was the Generalitat Valenciana that alerted the European network of tests carried out on a man from Gandía, 60 years old, who had tested positive.
Subsequent antibody tests ruled out the case.