Doctors have warned that the UK could be hit by Dengue fever outbreaks in the future due to climate change.

The warning from researchers comes after a 44-year-old woman, who has not been identified, was infected with the tropical disease during a trip to Nice, southern France, in September 2022.

She had experienced fever, headache, muscle pain and a rash for three days but did not require further medical treatment.

The patient had returned to the south of France a day before her symptoms started and her family who she stayed with in France also experienced similar symptoms.

Warrington Guardian: Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. ( Frank 600/ Getty Images)Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. ( Frank 600/ Getty Images) (Image: Frank 600/Getty Images)

She had not travelled to any other countries and was diagnosed by the UK’s Rare Imported Pathogens Laboratory (RIPL) after the woman visited an emergency department after returning home to the UK and doctors sent an urgent sample for analysis.

Dr Owain Donnelly from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London said: "This individual was part of an outbreak of over 30 locally transmitted cases in the south of France in 2022, which highlights the rapidly changing epidemiology of dengue."

Dr Donnelly presented the case to the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Copenhagen.

Dengue fever symptoms and how is it spread?

Dengue fever is spread by the bite of female Yellow Fever mosquitoes infected with the dengue virus.

Most UK infections typically originate from tropical regions in Asia and South America.

It has flu-like symptoms but an estimated 75% of cases are asymptomatic and can go undetected.

Fever is the most common symptom of dengue and it can appear with any of the following, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Rash
  • Aches and pains (eye pain, typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint, or bone pain)
  • Any warning sign

Typically, symptoms of dengue last 2–7 days with most people recovering after about a week.

In severe cases, 1 to 5% of patients develop potentially fatal severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Why could the UK get Dengue fever outbreaks in the future?

Climate change has led to the increased presence of the Asian tiger mosquito, a carrier of the disease, throughout southern Europe.

Dr Owain Donnelly commented: “With climate change, particularly hotter temperatures and more rainfall, and increasing global trade and tourism, we may see more parts of Europe with the right combination of factors for dengue outbreaks.

“Surveillance and reporting mechanisms are important in ensuring we have an accurate understanding of dengue spread.”

The Agence Regionale de Santé (ARS) in France has reported three separate outbreaks of dengue virus transmission contracted on national territory without patients having travelled abroad between June and September 2022.