By Alyssa McMurtry
OVIEDO, Spain (AA) – German authorities notified Spain that as many as six German citizens were infected with dengue on the island of Ibiza, the Spanish Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
One German woman confirmed to have been infected with the dengue virus had been in Ibiza with her family just before symptoms appeared in August.
The woman, her partner and 14-month-old daughter all developed symptoms, but only the woman was tested for dengue. Her antigen and antibody tests both came back positive for the virus.
Another woman was in the same part of Ibiza in October. She was also visiting the Mediterranean island with her partner and child, and they all eventually developed symptoms of dengue fever.
The German woman was again the only one tested, and her antibody test came back positive for dengue.
The Spanish Health Ministry said a person who appears to have caught dengue in Mexico seems to have started the outbreaks since the individual was residing in the same area as the two German families.
Dengue is usually spread through certain types of mosquitos. The tiger mosquito, which most likely acted as a vector in these cases, was first identified in Ibiza in 2014.
Since then, it has become “established in the whole island,” according to the Spanish Health Ministry.
At the moment, authorities say the risk of dengue is low across Ibiza. But from May to November, the risk is likely to become moderate, and local authorities are set to inform the population and step up vigilance.
Dengue, which has spread rapidly around the world in recent years, according to the World Health Organization, is most widespread in tropical areas.
Around 80% of dengue cases are mild or asymptomatic, but it can cause severe illness that can become fatal.
According to the Spanish government, dengue was eradicated from Europe in the 20th century, but outbreaks began occurring in 2010 in Croatia, France, Italy, and the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Spain detected its first local outbreaks in 2018. The mosquito that can spread the virus is present across Spain's Mediterranean coast, parts of Aragon, the Basque Country, Madrid, Extremadura, and the Balearic Islands.