Major efforts are being implemented to control the outbreak of chikungunya fever in North-East Italy. As of 14 September, the Italian authorities have reported a total of 101 confirmed cases, with a further 133 suspected cases awaiting laboratory confirmation. Chikungunya virus was isolated from local “tiger mosquitoes” (aedes albopictus), and there is evidence of local transmission in several localities in the region.
A team of public health experts led by ECDC, in collaboration with WHO, visited the Emilia-Romagna region last week to exchange experiences and examine the implications of the chikungunya outbreak for other European countries. The team included experts from France with extensive experience from last year’s chikungunya outbreak in the Indian Ocean.
The team found that the region has a well-organised tiger mosquito surveillance system which has been in place since 2005 that permitted the rapid implementation of mosquito control measures; the local medical surveillance system allows for persons infected with chikungunya virus to be rapidly identified; and all necessary measures have been taken to prevent further transmission of the virus.
With regard to the risk for Europe, the team concluded that the conditions which permitted the chikungunya outbreak in the provinces of Ravenna and Forlì-Cesena in the Emilia-Romagna region could be repeated in other areas of the European Union. Vigilance is needed in countries where the tiger mosquito is present to ensure the rapid identification of newly infected persons, as well as the timely implementation of appropriate control measures.