A surge in dengue fever cases among people returning to the U.K. spurred Public Health England to urge travelers to better protect themselves from insect bites while abroad.
Confirmed and probable dengue cases among those returning to England, Wales and Northern Ireland almost tripled to 141 in the first four months of the year from 51 a year earlier, the government agency said today in an e-mailed statement. In 2012, dengue cases reported to the agency rose 54 percent to 343, Public Health England said.
“The increase in the numbers of people returning with dengue fever is concerning, so we want to remind people of the need to practice strict mosquito bite avoidance at all times,” Jane Jones, a travel-associated infection expert at the agency, said in the statement. Applying insect repellent and wearing long-sleeve tops and trousers can reduce the risk of bites.
Dengue is transmitted by a type of mosquito found in tropical and sub-tropical areas, according to the World Health Organization’s website. Dengue symptoms include high fever, headaches, joint pains and rash, the WHO said. It may lead to complications and dengue hemorrhagic fever, a life-threatening form of the disease with symptoms that include abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding. About half the world’s population is at risk of infection, according to the Geneva-based WHO.
There is no specific treatment for the disease, with most patients taking paracetamol, drinking plenty of fluids and resting, Public Health England said. Anyone developing a fever or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning from a trip to an area affected by dengue should seek medical advice, the agency said.
Of the cases reported in England this year, 37 people had traveled to Thailand, 13 had been to Sri Lanka, 11 to Barbados, nine to Brazil and six to Jamaica, the agency said.
Singapore’s dengue cases are set to surge to a record 23,000 this year, prompting the government to break into homes that could be breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit the disease.
The European Union experienced its first sustained outbreak of dengue since the 1920s last year, on the Portuguese resort island of Madeira. At least 2,000 people were sickened as a result, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.