DYNAMIQ IN THE NEWS: A LOOK AT DENGUE FEVER

A LOOK AT DENGUE FEVER

12 February 2014

Dengue fever is caused by a virus transmitted by a mosquito bite. Globally there are over 50-100 million cases annually. Its incidence is increased 30 fold in the past 50 years. 2012 and 2013 saw epidemics in Southeast Asia and it is very real danger for travellers to the region.

The vast majority of cases result in a short lived ‘flu-like’ illness, 7-10 days after being infected. Symptoms can include joint and abdominal pain, headache, rash, nausea and vomiting.

The illness, however, may progress to life threatening severe dengue, previously known as Dengue Haemorrhagic fever, in which internal bleeding, circulatory failure, organ system failure and death may occur.

Dengue is diagnosed by a test which detects the antibody in blood. The test is available in clinics throughout SE Asia. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for the infection, only management of the symptoms with hydration therapy, fever and pain relief. Severe dengue should be managed in the hospital Intensive Care unit where the mortality is less than 1%.

As yet, there is no vaccine or pharmacological prophylaxis available. It’s vital for travellers to the region to do all they can to prevent being bitten (long trousers, sleeved shirts, high DEET mosquito repellent and nets). If travellers get sick they need let their insurers know and seek local medical assessment immediately.

- Doctor Jonathan Field, Director of Medical Services, Dynamiq

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