25 Jun, 2019 @ 12:26
1 min read

MISTAKE: ‘Laboratory error’ led to false diagnosis of Chikungunya by Icelandic hospital as Spain remains free of tropical virus

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.

PAINFUL: Chikungunya means ‘to walk doubled’ in Kimakondé, as the virus causes joint paint and rashes

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.

READ MORE: BREAKING: First chikungunya outbreak in Spain as three tourists on Costa Blanca are infected

Joshua Parfitt

Joshua James Parfitt is the Costa Blanca correspondent for the Olive Press. He holds a gold-standard NCTJ in multimedia journalism from the award-winning News Associates in Twickenham. His work has been published in the Sunday Times, Esquire, the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Sun on Sunday, the Mirror, among others. He has appeared on BBC Breakfast to discuss devastating flooding in Spain, as well as making appearances on BBC and LBC radio stations.

Contact me now: [email protected] or call +44 07960046259. Twitter: @jjparfitt

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