Understanding Oropouche Fever: Symptoms of This Mosquito-Borne Disease

Earlier this month, Italy reported its first case of Oropouche fever, a mosquito-borne illness typically found in Latin and South America.

Understanding Oropouche Fever: Symptoms of This Mosquito-Borne Disease

Italy recorded its first-ever case of Oropouche fever, a mosquito-borne disease, on June 15. This represents the first known instance of the disease being detected in continental Europe, although outbreaks have already occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean earlier this year.

As per a report from Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, health authorities in Italy stated that the diagnosed patient had recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean.

Oropouche virus disease is transmitted through bites from infected midges and mosquitoes. Although it has been endemic in Central and South America and the Caribbean for a long time, several countries have experienced a significant increase in diagnosed cases this year. Brazil, for example, has reported over 5,500 cases in 2024, up from about 840 cases in 2023.

Furthermore, the disease is now appearing in countries where Oropouche fever had not previously been detected. On June 11, the WHO reported the first-ever outbreak in Cuba, with approximately 70 confirmed cases. "This is the first instance of the disease in the country, indicating that the population is likely highly susceptible, with a substantial risk of more cases being identified," the report emphasized.

Symptoms Similar to Dengue: Oropouche fever is caused by the Oropouche virus, primarily transmitted through the bite of the Culicoides paraensis midge. There is no known human-to-human transmission of the disease.

Symptoms of the illness resemble those of dengue, typically manifesting four to eight days after the bite. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headaches, pain, chills, joint stiffness, and occasionally nausea and vomiting. Most patients recover within approximately seven days, and severe cases are uncommon, as reported by the WHO.

Currently, there is no specific vaccine or antiviral treatment available for Oropouche fever.

Potential Influence of Climate: Oropouche fever remains relatively understudied, as emphasized in a May 2023 article published in the journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty. Consequently, understanding the disease's epidemic potential and regions vulnerable to its spread remains largely unexplored.

Although Oropouche fever has predominantly been associated with tropical climates historically, the authors noted that the scarcity of data complicates drawing definitive conclusions. Surprisingly, outbreaks have also occurred in regions that are not typically linked with tropical climate conditions.

Moreover, despite uncertainties regarding the virus and its transmission, the authors observed a correlation between outbreaks of the disease and factors such as vegetation loss and deforestation.

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