A case of dengue fever has been reported in the Alpes-Maritimes and five others have been identified in the Var, according to the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Regional Health Agency. All of the cases involved infections from direct tiger mosquito bites, rather than cases among travellers returning from abroad.

These so-called autochthonous cases have slowly increased since the first case in France was identified in Nice in 2010. These cases occur following “imported” cases of people carrying the virus returning from abroad who then transmit the virus to another person through a tiger mosquito bite.

According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, the tiger mosquito is an opportunistic anthropophilic species which bites humans and can transmit viruses such as dengue, chikungunya and Zika. Because of this, it represents a major public health challenge.

Pierre Marty, professor of parasitology and tropical medicine at the University Hospital Centre of Nice, said: “Dengue fever is a disease that is benign in 99 percent of cases… We must not dramatise, we must remain vigilant. We must continue the measures taken against its proliferation.”

The tiger mosquito differs from its more common cousin by being a daytime biter, rather than mainly nocturnal. It flies more slowly, silently, and can breed in very shallow water, including trays under plant pots.