Mosquitoe bites - Two strikes and you may well be out

Health experts are warning travellers to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes amid a worldwide increase in dengue fever.

Health experts are warning travellers to take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes amid a worldwide increase in dengue fever.

Unlike malaria, for which prophylaxis offering varying degrees of protection is available, there is no immunisation for dengue – and no treatment for those who catch this sometimes fatal disease. The US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta describes the disease as "resurgent" and reports that last year there were up to 100 million cases worldwide and several hundred thousands cases of its more serious form, dengue haemorrhagic fever.

The only treatment for dengue is rest. Though it is not usually fatal on first infection, there are four strains of dengue and experts believe exposure to more than one strain can lead to haemorrhagic fever, which is fatal in 5 per cent of cases.

According to a new survey of British holidaymakers for Aventis Pasteur MSD, one in five British holidaymakers travels to destinations such as Asia, Africa and Central America without being vaccinated at all. One in three fails to get medical advice before travelling.

Dengue is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito and is characterised by flu-like symptoms, severe muscle aches and rashes. While malaria mosquitoes bite between dawn and dusk, the dengue species bites during the day. Many people who protect themselves against malarial bites in the evening are risking exposure by wearing T-shirts, shorts and sandals during daylight. Travellers who simply take anti-malarials and are happy to be bitten, believing they are fully protected, may be at even greater risk of being infected by more than one strain of dengue.

Some travel clinics appear to be out of date where it comes to the increased risk of dengue. I have friends heading for a honeymoon in Tahiti who were told not to worry about mosquito bites because French Polynesia is a malaria-free zone. In fact, there have been outbreaks of dengue on Tahiti, and the two most popular islands, Moorea and Bora Bora. I was also told that there was no risk of dengue before a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur, but a cardiologist friend in the city warned that dengue was increasingly common. The aedes mosquito is now firmly established in Asia, South America, East Africa, the South Pacific and even southern parts of the United States and north-eastern Australia.

The Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London confirmed it sees a "fair number" of people returning from Asia with dengue fever. It believes the numbers of Britons who fall ill with dengue are significantly underestimated because many of those who catch it think they simply have a bout of severe flu. "People are much less aware of dengue than of malaria," said Dr Dan Agranoff, specialist registrar in tropical medicine at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases. "People are much more blasé about the need to avoid being bitten. There is a lot more to travel medicine than vaccination and malarial prophylaxis."

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
News
Danczuk has claimed he is a 'man of the world'
news
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor