Spotlight on Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is a viral disease that is most prevalent across tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes severe flu-like symptoms that can lead to a potentially fatal complication known as severe dengue. The spread of the disease has accelerated rapidly over the last 50 years and up to 100 million infections are estimated to occur annually.

Humans contract the virus when bitten by an infected mosquito. There is no vaccination available, but the virus cannot be transmitted directly between people – it is only transmitted through mosquito bites, so it is very important to take measures to avoid being bitten when visiting an area of risk.

The disease is widespread throughout the tropics and tends to be more common in urban areas. Rainfall, temperature and mosquito control in urban areas also affects the spread of the disease.

There has recently been a large outbreak in Sri Lanka with over 80,000 cases of the fever being reported and 215 deaths. It is important to take extra care and use preventative measures if visiting the country. Click her for information about travel vaccines for Sri Lanka


Symptoms include:


  • High temperature
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind eyes
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A red rash
  • Reduced appetite
  • Swollen glands


Symptoms appear 4-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and once present will last 2-7 days.


Severe dengue is a potentially fatal complication with a drop in temperature below 38C and other warning signs showing between 3-7 days.


These include:


  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Gums bleeding
  • Blood in vomit
  • Feelings of fatigue and restlessness




As there is no vaccination available, it is important to take the following preventative measures to avoid infection:


  • Use insect repellent – products containing DEET are highly effective at repelling mosquitoes. 50% DEET is the best level for effectiveness.
  • Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before applying DEET for more effective protection.
  • Wear protective clothing that isn’t too tight – tight fitting clothes are easy for mosquitoes to bite through and socks and shoes offer more protection than sandals.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net to avoid early morning bites and especially if sleeping during the day.
  • Avoid stagnant water, especially in urban areas – dengue spreading mosquitoes are highly likely to be found in this environment.
  • Use a mosquito plug in to repel mosquitos.
  • Treat fabric with a Permethrin based spray. Permethrin is a chemical that will kill any bugs on contact.


A range of products including DEET based insect repellents, Mosquito plug-ins, fabric spray and mosquito nets are available at competitive prices from London Travel Clinic.

For expert advice on preventative measures and whether Dengue is a risk factor on your trip, contact us now for a travel health clinic consultation with one of our specialist travel nurses.

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