Wednesday 21 March 2018

Surge in rare diseases being treated in Irish hospitals blamed on 'exotic' travel

Chikungunya and dengue fever are caused by mosquito bites. Stock Image
Chikungunya and dengue fever are caused by mosquito bites. Stock Image
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Exotic travel has been blamed for a surge in rare diseases now being treated at Irish hospitals.

Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) data revealed doctors have been treating a range of diseases once unheard of in Ireland, ranging from leprosy to typhoid and dengue fever and from West Nile fever to the Zika virus.

Irish doctors are now having to keep themselves carefully updated in the symptoms of tropical illnesses because they are no longer a rarity in emergency rooms.

HPSC data from 2011-2016 revealed a surge in the number of exotic illnesses.

Most are being linked to exotic travel or migration from areas where such diseases are endemic.

A total of 13 cases of the Zika virus - which was the scourge of the 2016 Olympic Games and 2014 World Cup in Brazil - were treated last year.

There has been a surge in the number of diseases linked to bites from infected mosquitoes in Africa and Asia. Chikungunya and dengue fever, both caused by bites from infected mosquitoes, have been treated in Ireland every year since 2012.

In the case of dengue fever, 21 cases were reported in 2014 though that had fallen to 18 cases last year.

Malaria, arguably the world's best known mosquito-related disease, ranks as Ireland's main exotic illness in terms of the number of patients treated.

A total of 88 cases of malaria were treated last year.

A single case of West Nile fever was confirmed in 2013.

Irish hospitals have even confirmed cases of leprosy - two in 2013 and one in 2016.

The HSE urged people travelling overseas to carefully consult the health advice for those specific countries they intend to visit.

Irish Independent

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