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We describe the epidemiological pattern and genetic characteristics of 242 acute dengue infections imported to Europe by returning travellers from 2012 to 2014. The overall geographical pattern of imported dengue (South-east Asia > Americas > western Pacific region > Africa) remained stable compared with 1999 to 2010. We isolated the majority of dengue virus genotypes and epidemic lineages causing outbreaks and epidemics in Asia, America and Africa during the study period. Travellers acted as sentinels for four unusual dengue outbreaks (Madeira, 2012–13; Luanda, 2013; Dar es Salaam, 2014; Tokyo, 2014). We were able to characterise dengue viruses imported from regions where currently no virological surveillance data are available. Up to 36% of travellers infected with dengue while travelling returned during the acute phase of the infection (up to 7 days after symptom onset) or became symptomatic after returning to Europe, and 58% of the patients with acute dengue infection were viraemic when seeking medical care. Epidemiological and virological data from dengue-infected international travellers can add an important layer to global surveillance efforts. A considerable number of dengue-infected travellers are viraemic after arrival back home, which poses a risk for dengue introduction and autochthonous transmission in European regions where suitable mosquito vectors are prevalent.


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