Dengue fever is a mosquito borne infection. It is spread by a species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti, sometimes known as the ‘Asian tiger mosquito’ due to its striped appearance and it normally bites during the day. The illness is widespread throughout the tropics and subtropics, affecting over 100 countries with approximately 50 million cases globally a year and numbers of cases are growing rapidly.
Currently most infections occur in SE Asia, South and Central America, Mexico, Africa, Indian sub-continent, Hawaii and the Pacific. Urban areas tend to be higher risk than rural areas as the Dengue carrying mosquito likes to breed in stagnant water such as drain pipes, old tyres, cans and flower pots that collect rain.
If infected with Dengue Fever, symptoms include a high fever, sometimes known as ‘breakbone fever’ as it feels like your bones are breaking, plus a headache, possibly nausea and vomiting. Three to five days later a rash may appear on your trunk. It can make you feel very unwell and there is no specific treatment. If Dengue is caught for a second time, the symptoms can be more serious and potentially fatal in some. The only way to diagnose Dengue Fever is to have a blood test, therefore ff you suffer flu like symptoms while abroad or after returning home, seek medical advice urgently.
There is currently no vaccination against Dengue Fever, it is therefore important to protect yourself during the day with bite avoidance products like DEET. Apply 20 – 50% DEET on all exposed skin. If using a sunscreen, apply the suncream first, wait 30 minutes and then apply the DEET on top. Cover up with long sleeves/trousers wherever possible and consider applying Insecticide Clothing Treatment to clothing especially during Dengue Outbreaks.