EUROPE’S first case of dengue fever transmitted by sex has been recorded in Spain.
A 41-year-old man contracted the mosquito-borne viral disease after having unprotected sex with another man who had returned from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
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Upon notification of the patient’s condition at Madrid’s Ramon y Cajal Hospital in September, an epidemiological investigation was launched.
The General Directorate of Public Health confirmed that the affected man had acquired the disease – caused by any of the four dengue viruses – in Spain.
The first man had not left Spain in the 45 days prior to the first signs of any symptoms.
Meanwhile his partner had travelled to the Caribbean countries during the incubation period and had only been in Spain for 10 days before the onset of symptoms.
Health officials confirmed that the disease had been transmitted through his partner’s semen.
It was only discovered by scientists that the disease could be live in semen 18 months ago, when a traveller who had been in Thailand was studied.
Speaking about the case in Spain, public health representative Susana Jimenez said: “His partner presented the same symptoms as him but lighter around ten days earlier, and he had previously visited Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
“An analysis of their sperm was carried out and it revealed that not only did they have dengue but that it was exactly the same virus which circulates in Cuba.”
Officials at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said: “To our knowledge, the first sexual transmission of the dengue virus among men who have sex with men.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) advice reads: “The global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world’s population is now at risk.
“The virus responsible for causing dengue, is called dengue virus (DENV). There are four types of DENV serotypes (DENV1, DENV2, DENV3 and DENV4), meaning that it is possible to be infected four times.”