Monday 19 August 2019

Exotic viruses are no longer a rarity here as detections rise by 250pc

A total of 59 cases of malaria were treated in Irish hospitals last year. Stock Image
A total of 59 cases of malaria were treated in Irish hospitals last year. Stock Image

Ralph Riegel

Irish holidaymakers' love of tropical travel has contributed to a 250pc increase in overall cases of eight previously rare diseases.

Over the past six years, Irish doctors have dealt with cases of leprosy, dengue fever, Zika virus, chikungunya, giardiasis, malaria, West Nile fever and typhoid.

In 2013, a total of 143 incidents of all eight diseases were recorded in Irish hospitals and clinics.

Last year, that had soared to a total of 357 - an increase of almost 250pc.

The biggest increase was delivered by cases of giardiasis, an illness linked to contaminated water, which soared from 44 to 270 in six years.

Dengue fever cases had increased slightly from 15 cases in 2013 to 17 last year.

However, the good news was that while Ireland recorded cases of leprosy (two in 2013 and one in 2016) and Zika virus (13 in 2016), no incident of either disease was recorded last year.

Irish doctors are now keeping carefully updated in the symptoms of so-called tropical illnesses because they are no longer a rarity.

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data from 2013 to 2018 revealed the growth in the number of exotic illnesses that are being treated.

In 2016, there was a surge in the number of diseases linked to bites from infected mosquitoes in Africa and Asia.

Chikungunya and dengue fever, both caused by infected mosquito bites, have been treated in Ireland every year now since 2012.

A total of three cases of chikungunya were recorded between 2014 and 2016, but Ireland has not recorded a case in 2017 or 2018.

A total of 59 cases of malaria were treated in Irish hospitals last year.

Irish Independent

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