Dengue fever rising in cases in the Mediterranean countries. Should you be worried?
By The Headlines, April 14, 2023 | 12:06 PM
Researchers have warned that due to climate change, Dengue fever - previously only found in tropical areas - is becoming more common in some parts of Europe.
A woman from the UK was infected with the dengue virus while vacationing in France in September 2022. Her symptoms included fever, headache, muscle pain and a rash that lasted for three days but did not require additional medical attention. This is why it is important to take caution when travelling during this period.
With the summer holidays just around the corner, it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with travelling to certain regions. Southern Europe is no exception; dengue fever should be taken into consideration if you’re planning to visit this area.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a virus found across tropical countries and in some parts of Southern Europe but usually does not cause major issues. Additionally, it is frequently associated with travel.
Dengue fever is predominant in tropical climates of Africa, Asia, Central & South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and some parts of North America. Cases have also been reported intermittently in some parts of Southern Europe during specific times of the year.
How do you catch Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is mainly spread through mosquito bites and those responsible for it bites during the day. For this reason, it is important to take extra precautions against being bitten by a mosquito when travelling to countries where dengue fever cases have been reported.
It is impossible to acquire dengue from direct contact with an infected individual.
What are the symptoms of Dengue Fever?
A large proportion of dengue cases (75%) can go unnoticed as they don't show any symptoms. Many people won't experience any signs of the disease.
People who develop symptoms of a mosquito-borne disease typically experience fever, headache and eye pain, nausea and body aches. They may also see a red blotchy rash. Symptoms begin to appear between four to 10 days after being bitten.
What should you do if you experience Dengue symptoms?
If you've recently been to a country where dengue is present and don't feel well, the health service suggests seeing a GP as soon as possible.
In general, dengue fever is usually mild and will resolve itself. However, in rare cases, symptoms may intensify after a few days so it's important to stay vigilant if you or someone you know has been bitten. Hospitalization may be necessary for such instances.
Severe dengue can be identified by symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, breathing difficulties, passing blood, exhaustion and restlessness. If you experience any of these signs urgently seek medical help.
How is Dengue treated?
If you experience symptoms of Dengue, the best course of action is to rest and stay hydrated until they subside.
To reduce fever and pain, one can take paracetamol as an over-the-counter treatment. However, anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen should be avoided if infected with dengue to prevent any side effects.
If your symptoms are getting worse or are severe, seek medical help immediately.
How can you protect yourself from Dengue?
Taking preventive measures against mosquito bites is essential to prevent the spread of any condition that mosquitoes can cause. It is advised to follow the same precautionary steps for any other condition spread by mosquitoes.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, wear long clothes that cover your arms and legs, use repellent sprays, and keep doors and windows properly shut.
Should you be worried about South Europe travel this summer?
Dengue fever symptoms are quite similar to the flu and can cause discomfort, however, it usually goes away without medical intervention in a few days. Even though there have been cases reported in Europe, the risk of contracting it is low and severe illness is rare.
However, if you are medically vulnerable, you may be advised to avoid countries with recorded incidents.