Dengue Fever on the rise — what you need to know

Ask most people to name a Mosquito borne tropical disease and nine times out of ten, Malaria will be the top answer. Yet there is another disease that is a cause for caution and according to experts is not just a consideration for those travelling to the tropics.

It’s estimated that more than 3.5 billion people, over half the entire world’s population, live at risk of Dengue Fever. In fact around 400 million people are estimated to be infected with the virus every year.

 

Dengue Fever is a viral infectious tropical disease and can have a serious, debilitating effect on our health. With no vaccination against the disease currently available, prevention is key in ensuring Dengue Fever doesn’t become an unwanted traveling companion.

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Although particular care should be taken in tropical and sub-tropical climates where Dengue Fever is most prevalent, some cases of Dengue Fever infection have also been reported in Europe, leading experts to voice concerns over a potential rise in the incidence of the disease closer to home. Here is the latest Dengue Fever data by Public Health England which was published in July 2014.

Our guide on what you need to know about Dengue Fever

1. What is Dengue Fever and how do you catch it?

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito - this image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Aedes Aegypti Mosquito - this image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dengue Fever is a viral illness spread by a certain type of mosquito - the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito - a species that typically bites during the day.

In fact, these mosquitoes tend to feed most intensely a couple of hours after sunrise and just before sunset so extra care is needed during these prime biting times.

 

2. Is there a vaccination or cure for Dengue Fever?

Currently there are no preventative vaccines or treatments licensed for use with the disease. However it is encouraging to see there are a number of research studies into Dengue Fever vaccines currently underway. But as a vaccine may be some way off in the future, prevention, such as using an effective insect repellent remains one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself.

3. What are the signs and symptoms of Dengue Fever?

Symptoms tend to appear five to eight days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito and typically include:

  • Severe flu-like illness
  • Fever
  • Intense joint and muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A red skin rash
  • Severe headache
  • Upset stomach
  • Severe abdominal pain

If you have any of these symptoms, you must seek immediate medical assistance from a healthcare professional.

4. What happens if you contract Dengue Fever?

If you suspect you are at risk of Dengue Fever always consult a qualified medical professional who can advise on the best course of action after a clinical diagnosis.

5. Who is most at risk of Dengue Fever?

Anyone who is bitten by an infected mosquito is at risk of Dengue Fever. However the disease can be particularly dangerous for those with a compromised immune system such as the elderly and young children.

6. What are the Dengue Fever hot spots

Dengue Fever is common in parts of Africa, Southeast and South-Central Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Western Pacific, the Indian subcontinent, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Many of these are increasingly popular tourist destinations.

However, recent research has revealed the incidence of the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito has also increased in Europe due to changing climates and rising temperatures. Sporadic cases of the disease have also recently been reported in countries such as France and Croatia.

7. How can I protect myself against Dengue Fever?

In light of the fact that there are no vaccines to prevent infection with Dengue Fever virus be sure to protect yourself from the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito when you are in Dengue Fever hot spots. Use these tips to avoid being bitten by biting insects and ensure you use an effective insect repellent. It only takes one bite so being diligent about protection is really important.

8. Being prepared is key in reducing the risk of being bitten

  •  Always cover exposed skin with lightweight long sleeved tops and trousers.
  • Apply a thin, even layer of a mosquito repellent which is proven to be effective in high risk areas.
  • In trials Mosi-guard Natural demonstrated effective protection for eight hours or more after a single application.