Dengue fever outbreak in Egypt forces Russia to issue tourism warning

 Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Most cases of the mosquito-borne virus are not severe. Russia has implemented health measures for flights from Egypt as a result of the outbreak.

Egyptian authorities confirmed on Tuesday an outbreak of dengue, a development that forced Russia to issue a warning to its citizens visiting the country, and could affect tourism to Egypt amid the economic crisis.

Egypt’s Ministry of Health said an unknown number of people in Al Ilayqat have tested positive for dengue.

There have been no deaths, and the infected individuals are being treated at home, according to a Facebook post from the ministry.

Al Ilayqat is located in Qena governorate in central Egypt, near the Nile River. It is possible that other areas are also affected.

Some of the dengue cases in Al Ilayqat are “linked to cases that showed symptoms” in Safaga and Quseer, according to the ministry. Both cities are located on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

Speculation about dengue began last week when people in the area started reporting fever, body aches and headaches, according to the Egyptian state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram.

Dengue is a viral infection caused by bites from infected mosquitoes. The majority of cases are asymptomatic or mild. Cases are occasionally more severe or deadly.

Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea and rash. There is no specific treatment for dengue, but early detection and access to good medical care can significantly lower fatality rates, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Egypt is not a traditionally known hotspot for dengue. The WHO listed several countries in East Asia, the Pacific and South America as those most affected by the virus.

Dengue is not completely unprecedented in Egypt, however. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists dengue cases in Egypt as “sporadic/uncertain” on its website.

The WHO also noted an outbreak in the Assiut governorate in 2015. The area is north of Qena.

Other parts of the Middle East have also been affected by dengue.

Why it matters

The outbreak could affect tourism to Egypt. On Monday, Russia’s sanitary watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said it tightened sanitary and quarantine controls for flights from Egypt, according to Russia’s official news agency.

Egypt is a major tourism destinations for Russians. Al-Monitor’s correspondent in Egypt reported in September that the Russian ruble would be used by Egyptian hotels and tourism companies in a bid to attract Russians.

Tourism is especially important to Egypt due to its economic crisis.

The outbreak in Qena comes amid growing dengue cases worldwide.

Reported cases increased from around 505,000 in 2000 to 5.2 million in 2019, according to the WHO.

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