Before the 1970s dengue outbreaks were uncommon, but since this time the disease has gone global. With the infection affecting 128 countries in regions including Southeast Asia, Central America, Caribbean Countries, North America, Africa and Eastern Mediterranean.

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According to the World Health Organisation the classification of this disease is as follows:

  • dengue without warning signs
  • dengue with warning signs
  • severe dengue.

If you have travelled to any country where dengue fever can be found and suffered from an Aedes mosquito bite, it can be a worrying time.  It may give you peace of mind to know that, according to the ‘Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’ (CDC), out of the 400 million people estimated to catch dengue fever every year, 100 million of them get ill from it.  That means that 75% of dengue infections demonstrate no symptoms. And of the remaining 25%, 20% are mild.

As such, only a tiny 5% of people affected by dengue fever will develop a more dangerous, even life-threatening illness. Such as a haemorrhagic syndrome or dengue shock syndrome. Dengue shock usually occurs within a week of catching dengue fever and requires a blood transfusion. Oxygen therapy also supports the recovery of a patient who has developed dengue shock syndrome. The symptoms of the haemorrhagic syndrome can come on fast and as such can be harder to treat. But with medical help in the form of intravenous fluids, electrolyte therapy and blood transfusions, your body can be supported to heal itself naturally.

The Symptoms

The classic symptoms of dengue fever can include but are not limited to:

  • headaches
  • aches and pains throughout the body
  • lack of appetite
  • nausea and sickness
  • bleeding of the gums and nose
  • rashes across the body

If you find that you develop severe stomach pain, bloody vomit or stools, clammy skin, difficulty breathing, flu-like symptoms or fever anywhere up to two weeks after being bitten by a mosquito whilst travelling in an area where dengue is found. Then it is crucial you get to a doctor or hospital right away for treatment.  If at this time you are still travelling, then seeing a local hospital or doctor is vital so you can get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Which is usually achieved via a blood test.

There is no antiviral treatment for dengue fever but usually taking pain killers (not ibuprofen or aspirin) and keeping hydrated and rested is enough to get you through a mild outbreak.  Generally, people suffering from dengue start to feel better within two weeks. Though the virus can make you feel tired and out of sorts for a few weeks after this initial phase.

Before You Go

When planning a holiday to countries where dengue fever is present such as Egypt, Brazil, Peru or Mexico then prevention is the only current form of protection. So research where you are going to check the recommendations from world health officials before you go.

Dengue fever vaccines for general use only do not exist and the one which is known and used most widely. Dengvaxia, is limited to use in people who have suffered dengue fever before and live in endemic areas.

Before you travel, the health experts at Click Pharmacy recommend you consider these methods of protection to help you avoid potentially infected mosquito bites:

Pack and use repellants during the day and at night.

Spray the room, including all dark corners such as under the bed and behind the curtains, as well as any exposed skin and your clothes.  Always look for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered repellant products such as DEET.  This product makes it harder for insects to smell you and therefore more difficult for them to bite you.  It can be found in any number of products from 5% to 99% in strength including liquid, lotion, spray, roll-ons and wipes. Find the product which suits you best, usually with a minimum of 50% concentrate. And use it liberally!

Burn insect repellant oils in the room/house you are staying in

Only wear long sleeved tops and trousers. 

This not only makes it more difficult for them to smell you, but it also limits the amount of skin on the show. Making it more difficult for the insects to find somewhere to bite.

Purchase mosquito nets

To use at night time over your bed as well as across doors and windows.  Shut windows and doors fully to help prevent bugs from getting to you while you sleep too.

Stay away from still water

If you are travelling to areas near water, then try and stay away from still water such as ponds, stagnant watering holes/swamps and pools.  At sunrise and sunset, especially these types of areas are a hive of activity for mosquitos.

If you are staying somewhere on a longterm basis. Then ensure there is nowhere in or around the room or house which could develop an accumulation of stagnant water.  This is the kind of environment where mosquitos will breed.

Avoid wearing perfumes

Or using strong smelling soaps as these fragrances can attract insects.

Book an appointment with the health professionals at Click Pharmacy to discuss your travel situation before going. 

They can help guide you with which products to take with you in case you getting bitten by a potentially infected mosquito.  Such products include doxycycline which, when tested in those with dengue fever, showed great benefits to their healing. 

If you wish to speak to an expert, you can arrange a free and confidential appointment via skype or online from the privacy of your own home.

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