Anyone living in a tropical or subtropical area should be aware of dengue fever, symptoms but most importantly know the best prevention practices.
Dengue fever is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. It is a problem in many tropical and subtropical parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, South America and Australia. Estimates suggest that around 100 million cases occur each year.
Dengue fever is not transmitted (spread) from person to person. Only infected mosquitoes transmit dengue fever. It is thought that the mosquito contracts the virus when it bites an infected person. The mosquito is then infective for the rest of its life and can spread the virus every time it bites someone.
Dengue fever ranges in severity from a mild flu-like illness through to a severe disease. Symptoms of uncomplicated dengue include high temperature, headache, joint and muscle pains, nausea and malaise. Dengue fever can develop into the more severe forms of the illness: dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.
There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. The best way to protect against dengue fever is to avoid mosquito bites when in affected tropical and subtropical areas.
Seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have contracted dengue fever. Early diagnosis and management of symptoms is critical to reduce the risk of complications and avoid further spread of the virus.
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Protect yourself against mosquito bites when in dengue-prone areas. Suggestions include:
- Avoid outdoor activity, particularly around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
- Wear socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.
- Wear mosquito repellent that contains the active constituents DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin. Reapply regularly and make sure you follow directions for safe use on the label.
- Apply a product, such as permethrin, to your clothes or bedding.
- Use a bed net.
- Stay in air-conditioned accommodation with flyscreens on the windows.