Sexually-transmitted dengue case confirmed in Spain
Though the case in Madrid is the first-ever case of same-sex transmission of dengue, it is not the first-ever sexually transmitted case.
Dengue is a vector-borne disease that normally spreads through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito
The man who presented with the typical symptoms of dengue fever had reportedly acquired it from his male partner who had recently been to Cuba
Though the case in Madrid is the first-ever case of same-sex transmission of dengue, it is not the first-ever sexually transmitted case
Last week, the Spanish health authority said that they had confirmed a case of sexually-transmitted dengue.
The 41-year-old man who presented with the typical symptoms of dengue fever had reportedly acquired it from his male partner who had recently been to Cuba and had shown mild symptoms of the disease 10 days earlier. The hospital authorities declared it as a case of sexual transmission after they found the same Cuban strain of dengue virus in the sperm of both the men.
Dengue is a vector-borne disease that normally spreads through the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. Though it is prevalent in more than 128 countries of the world, the disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical areas.
India has seen more than 67,000 cases of dengue this year till October 2019; more than 1,000 cases have been reported from Delhi alone this year till 5 November. There is no vaccine available for dengue so far and the treatment is mostly supportive - for the management of symptoms. This new mode of transmission on top of that has just raised more concerns for the high-risk countries.
Not the first case
Though the case in Madrid is the first-ever case of same-sex transmission of dengue, it is not the first-ever sexually transmitted case. In fact, non-vector borne cases of such diseases are often seen in non-endemic areas - most commonly involving a person who had recently travelled to an endemic area.
In 2011, a similar case had shown up in South Korea where a man had acquired the disease from his infected partner.
Researchers say that it is possible to acquire dengue from non-vector modes (without a mosquito bite), though the chances are really slim. The possible transmission routes include needle sticks, accidents in the lab, blood transfusion, bone marrow transplant, organ transplants and through a mother to child either through breastfeeding or during pregnancy. Dengue could also spread through the mucocutaneous route - through sexual contact.
In the South Korea case, it was unclear if the couple had used any barriers or contraceptives - though the woman was not menstruating so the man could not have come in direct contact with the infected blood. Neither of them had a sexually transmitted disease or were immunocompromised in that case. Nor were either of them taking any drugs, cancelling out the chances of needle stick transmission.
Should we be concerned?
Experts have previously found dengue virus in the sperm and vaginal secretions - the virus had been found in the semen of a man 37 days after the onset of symptoms. Though, as discussed earlier, sexual transmission is rare.
When asked about the possibility of sexually transmitted dengue, Dr Ayush Pandey, a health practitioner associated with myUpchar, said, “Not all cases of dengue are life-threatening. In fact, in most cases, dengue can be managed easily with supportive treatment… It is best to follow preventive measures for dengue and avoid sexual contact with the infected person. And if you have any further concerns, talk to your doctor.”
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read our article on Dengue Fever: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention.
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Azad contended that children are more "susceptible" to dengue by virtue of their uniforms that expose them to mosquito bites, leading to dengue.