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17 December 2012 12:30
Inadvertently imported tropical mosquitoes appear to be responsible for Madeira's dengue fever outbreak
Europe's first sustained outbreak of dengue fever in almost a century is losing momentum after infecting 2,000 people on Madeira, Portuguese officials have said.
Though there have been no deaths, the viral infection, which is spread by mosquitoes, has seen 118 people treated in hospital on the popular tourist island since October.
Portugal's health ministry said the week between November 26 and December 2 saw the number of new cases registered fall by 54% while everyone who'd been infected was recovering.
The outbreak emphasised how vital it is for holidaymakers to have
medical travel insurance.
Portugal's health secretary Fernando Leal da Costa said it appeared Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying dengue had accidentally been brought to the island from a tropical country earlier this year.
Visiting Madeira, he told reporters that cases were being treated "in exemplary fashion". But he added that totally eradicating the mosquito from Madeira would be "very difficult" as it had established a habitat there.
Dengue fever can range in severity from producing mild flu-like symptoms to potentially fatal forms which develop in some 5% of people.
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