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Deaths as dengue fever grips Caribbean

There is no vaccination for Dengue fever; the only option is prevention and treatment.

Fatalities from Dengue are rare in travellers because they are generally fortunate enough to have access to good healthcare if infected,. However it is a very debilitating disease and contracting a serious case of the fever will ruin most trips at the very least and can lead to further complications, especially if left untreated.

People I know who have had Dengue fever tell me it is an incredibly painful and frightening experience, symptoms include pain behind the eyes which can feel like you are going blind, skin rashes and extreme pain in the bones and joints; it can take weeks of hospitalisation to recover. It should also be noted that people who catch Dengue once are at far greater danger if they contract a different strain of the disease at a later date; contracting dengue fever may give you a level of immunity from the strain you caught, but makes you more vulnerable to the other strains which are out there.

So the key is in making sure your bite prevention methods are up to scratch. With no vaccine and no cure these are the only forms of protection. Don’t fall into the common misconception that mosquitoes bite at night and more in rural areas. The Aedes mosquito which carries the virus is active mainly during the day and are actually more common in urban areas.

Areas like the Caribbean where this latest outbreak has occurred are perfect locations for the mosquito and thus outbreaks of the disease, which seems to be on the increase across the world, are not uncommon. Due to the short life-cycles of these mosquitoes, even a short period of ideal conditions can lead to an explosion of the number of carriers.

The solution is bite avoidance day and night; cover up; insect repellent; insecticide; avoiding attractants like scents and scented soaps and even smelly feet & cheese; avoiding stagnant water, even small puddles can be breeding grounds; knowing the symptoms and seeking immediate medical care if any occur.

 

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Source – The Independent 

Date – 18th July 2010

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew