Travellers are being warned to take extra care to arm themselves against mosquito bites when abroad, as the UK has seen a threefold increase in confirmed dengue fever cases in the first four months of the year.
Most at risk of contracting the fever are people who have been to tropical and subtropical parts of the world (there are about 100 countries where it is a problem).
It is transmitted by mosquito bite and its symptoms are like a severe bout of flu, with a nasty headache, muscle pain and a rash. It can’t be spread from person-to-person and and is luckily rarely fatal. Most cases are treated with paracetamol, fluids and rest, but a very small number of people can go on to develop more serious symptoms and may need a hospital visit.
Dr Jane Jones, a travel-associated infection expert at PHE said:
“The increase in the numbers of people returning with dengue fever is concerning. Of those who became unwell, the majority had been to South East Asia and the Far East with the next highest proportions visiting the Indian Subcontinent followed by the Caribbean.
As there is no specific preventative medicine or vaccination against this fever, prevention relies on avoiding the mosquito bites in the first place, so slather on that DEET and wear appropriate clothing such as long sleeved tops and trousers when you’re in a mosquito-infested place.
Anyone who develops a fever or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning from these areas should seek medical advice from the NHS 111 or their GP.