French Health Officials Combat Foreign Disease Threats

Recently, the French population has encountered risks from two unwelcome new disease threats transmitted through insects: Chikungunya Virus and Lyme Disease. Health authorities in France have implemented measures to counter the spread of these illnesses.

Combating A Mosquito-Borne Disease

Last week, the World Health Organization reported confirmation of the spread of Chikungunya Virus in the southeastern part of the nation. Physicians verified four cases of the tropical disease in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region. Authorities also revealed the presence of a number of suspected cases of the illness.

The patients ranged in age from 3 to 77. They apparently contracted the illness in France after sustaining bites from Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, a species sometimes referred to as the "tiger mosquito" because of its striped body. All of the people who contracted the febrile disease lived in the same region of France. Some people who contract Chikungunya Virus never display overt symptoms of the disease, a factor which may contribute to the spread of virus. Most patients do develop some signs of illness, which may include high fevers and joint pain, skin rashes and headaches.

A Growing Lyme Disease Threat in France

Earlier this summer, health officials in France affiliated with the French Institute For Agricultural Research released a new app designed for use in Internet-connected mobile phones. The software seeks to track the spread of Lyme Disease, a potentially deadly infection carried by some species of ticks. Lyme Disease spread rapidly across the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. It has now become a threat in many parts of Europe, too.

Ticks attach themselves to the bodies of animals and humans and suck blood. They sometimes serve as a vector for Lyme Disease transmission. Lyme Disease produces a readily identifiable "bulls eye" rash in many victims shortly after transmission. However, the disease can remain undetected in some patients for years. It may produce variable symptoms which sometimes include headaches, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and joint pain, facial palsy, heart problems, short term memory losses, and, in severe cases, death. Lyme Disease afflicts not only people, it often strikes companion animals, such as cats and dogs. The new app, entitled "Signalement TIQUES" will offer an English-language option in September. The publishers of the app hope it will supply valuable data enabling them to track the spread of Lyme Disease cases in France.

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