RESIDENTS and holidaymakers in Provence and the French Riviera are being advised to take extra precautions against mosquitoes this summer, after six cases of tropical diseases were reported.
Tiger mosquitoes are known to spread dengue fever and chikungunya, which come with flu-like symptoms and can cause long periods of muscle and joint pain. They are smaller than normal mosquitoes, with black and white striped legs, and are more likely to bite at daytime than at night.
The creatures first appeared in the Alpes-Maritimes seven years ago. Since then, they have spread to the rest of the Paca region: the Var, Bouches-du-Rhône and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.
Five people in France have been hospitalised with chikungunya so far this year, and one person has been treated for dengue fever.
Paca regional health authority has launched a new offensive. It says tiger mosquito numbers are growing and that they are spreading into parts of the neighbouring Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alpes. More than 1,300 traps have been placed this summer around the areas most at risk.
The group's head, Dominique Deroubaix, told reporters yesterday: "This is an important health issue. The situation is not alarming, but we cannot afford to ignore it."
Basic preventative steps can be taken, such as using repellents and clothing with long sleeves and legs, as well as eliminating any stagnant water on your property. Mosquito nets are recommended for young children's beds.
Doctors have been asked to be vigilant. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms - a temperature of more than 38'C, headaches, tiredness and muscle pain - should consult their GP.
First native cases of chikungunya
First dengue fever case hits France
'Tiger mosquito' disease concerns