More dengue is coming home from holidays

Friday, 24 February 2012

The NT Centre for Disease Control (CDC) is again reminding travellers to South East Asia to guard against disease carrying mosquitoes, especially those that transmit dengue fever, which bite during daytime and live around urban areas.

"Dengue fever has been detected in a higher than usual number of people returning to the Northern Territory after holidays in Indonesia or East Timor," CDC Director, Dr Vicki Krause said.

"Many people returning home with dengue fever have only been away a short time, even just a few days, but this is easily long enough to be bitten and contract a very unpleasant illness.

"Unlike most mosquitoes, the dengue fever-causing Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not wait until dusk to come out, but can lurk under the tables of cafes and restaurants, especially in the outdoor settings where many people dine in South East Asia."

Dr Krause said that while there has been no transmission of dengue fever in the NT since the 1950s this debilitating disease can still be contracted in popular South East Asian holiday spots.

"The CDC routinely investigates all people diagnosed with dengue fever to determine the place of infection. As a result, we know there are many hot-spots in neighbouring countries that are popular with Australian holidaymakers."

"We want to remind travellers that avoiding mosquito bites is the only prevention from dengue fever, and that protection is required all day," Dr Krause said.

Travellers can avoid being bitten by mosquitoes carrying dengue or other diseases, by:

  • avoiding areas of likely mosquito activity, including areas of dense vegetation or where there is pooled water
  • wearing loose light coloured clothing with long sleeves, trousers and socks
  • using repellents containing di-ethyl-toluamide (DEET) or picaridin on exposed skin as supplements to protective clothing

·        ensuring flyscreens in accommodation are in good repair

·        using clothing that has been impregnated with insecticide during manufacture (available at a number of camping and work clothing stores).

  • using mosquito coils or mosquito lanterns/gas operated insecticide vapour devices in outdoor sheltered areas, and electric insecticide vapour mats in enclosed areas.

Dengue fever is more commonly seen in older children and adults. It is characterised by abrupt onset of high fever lasting 3-7 days, severe frontal headache, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pains.

Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and/or minor bleeding (e.g. from nose and gums).

"The acute symptoms of dengue fever last up to 10 days but some people may experience repeated episodes of fever," Dr Krause said.

"Full recovery may be slow and associated with weakness and depression. It is rarely fatal but repeated episodes of dengue fever carry with it the increased possibility of dengue hemorrhagic fever which is a severe disease and has a higher fatality rate."

More information can be found at:

http://www.health.nt.gov.au/library/scripts/objectifyMedia.aspx?file=pdf/45/15.pdf&siteID=1&str_title=Dengue Fever.pdf

Media Contact: Bridget Wild - 89 992 818 or 0401 116 203