Dengue fever is a viral condition transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. The disease is widespread in the tropics and subtropics and occurs in areas below about 2000ft commonly in Asia, coastal tropical Africa and Latin America between 300N and 400S. Approximately 100 million cases occur each year throughout the world.
This viral disease is transmitted by the bite on an infected mosquito. The disease is found in many of the hotter tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Many cases are reported from the very popular tourist islands of southern Thailand and also from Vietnam (particularly around the Mekong Delta region). However it is worth remembering that Singapore has experienced one of its worst Dengue Fever outbreaks in well over a decade. See the associated pdf file for further information.
No vaccine is available against Dengue Fever and so the main form of defence rests in protection against mosquito bites. For further information please refer to ‘Protection against Insect Bites’ by the Tropical Medical Bureau.
Diagnosis of Dengue Fever
Dengue is mainly diagnosed from the patient’s history of exposure, in a region where the disease is recognised, coupled with the clinical signs (headache, fever, joint pains and skin rash). There are a number of other similar conditions (Chikungunya Virus, Ross River Encephalitis etc) so confirmation requires a blood test to show the presence of antibodies in the patient. The result may not be available for some weeks after symptoms commence.
If you believe you may have been exposed to the disease and are developing symptoms you should obtain medical advice urgently. Don’t use Aspirin type drugs to control any symptoms as these can make you significantly worse. Fluid balance must be maintained and the temperature may need to be controlled. In some regions it may be difficult to differentiate the disease from Typhus and so the doctors may consider using tetracycline antibiotics until the blood results are through.
Thank you for reading How to Avoid Dengue Fever – Travel Health Advice. For more information please see Avoiding Dengue Fever – Travel Health Advice PDF.