Dengue is a common virus transmitted by mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including South East Asia, Africa, the Americas and North Queensland. It is fast becoming a major international health concern with increasing outbreaks in many countries. Since there is currently no vaccine, all travellers to these regions should try to minimise mosquito bites. Thousands of travellers each year return to WA from Bali and Thailand with dengue.
The main mosquito that transmits the virus is Aedes Aegypti. This particular mozzy likes to bite during the day, usually just after sunrise and just before sunset. It breeds in water holding containers such as pots, tyres and also palm fronds. Unlike malaria, dengue is most common in urban areas.
The disease usually presents between 4-7 days after being bitten by infected mosquitoes with a sudden onset of high fever, body aches, pain behind the eyes and severe fatigue lasting for around a week or two, with the potential to severely disrupt holiday plans, or work if the disease occurs after the traveller has returned home. Most individuals make a full recovery, however occasionally severe complications may occur requiring hospital admission and prolonged recovery. Severe Dengue can be fatal.
How to avoid dengue
Use a tropical strength DEET or Picaridin containing repellent every 4-8 hours during daylight hours (frequency of application depends on the strength of the repellent) Wear long loose fitting clothing if practical. Stay in accommodation that has insect screens on windows and doors.
Dengue is diagnosed with blood testing.
There is no cure for dengue. Treatment involves hydration and paracetamol for pain and fever. Severe Dengue requires treatment in a hospital setting. If you have a high fever after visiting tropical or subtropical regions, and even if you are back in Australia – don’t delay seeking medical help and make sure you mention your travel history.