Dengue Danger: Why the Spike?

Mosquito

Cases of Dengue Fever have been capturing headlines recently, with outbreaks reported in Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Peru, the Southern U.S., and many other locations around the world. In 2012, the United States alone saw a 70 percent increase in reported cases over the previous year.

Part of the reason we see spikes in Dengue is that people are traveling and crossing boarders more than ever before. And some travelers are unaware of the danger that a bite can cause. Do your employees know to tell a treating doctor once home that they were abroad and in a location that had dengue, malaria or other infectious disease? That being said, it should be a part of every organization’s Duty of Care plan to protect travelers from foreseeable risks, including Dengue. That can be easily implemented by offering pre-travel advice based on a destination. Hundreds of organizations implement an automated way of doing this via email that’s tied to their travel booking data.

Is Dengue something organizations need to worry about? It is a viral disease found in most tropical and sub-tropical places and is transmitted by mosquito. These insects like to live in or near human habitations and bite during the day. Symptoms come on suddenly and include high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, and often a rash. The acute illness can last up to ten days, but complete recovery can take two to four weeks.

The number of places with the disease has increased, including many urban areas where mosquitoes breed in stagnant water found in old tires, ponds and even pet dishes and bird baths. There is no vaccine against dengue fever, although research is underway.

So, how can travelers protect themselves?

Cases of Dengue Fever are confirmed every year in international travelers visiting infected areas. The risk of acquiring Dengue is highest after sunrise and before sunset. That being said, the only way to prevent infection is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear long sleeves and long pants, and use insect repellents.

Listen to Dr. Quigley discuss Dengue Fever during a recent interview on ABC News Australia “Pacific Beat.”

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