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Sharp rise in dengue fever cases

11 July 2014 09:10

There has been a rise in the number of dengue fever cases linked to holidays in Barbados last year

There has been a rise in the number of dengue fever cases linked to holidays in Barbados last year

There has been a sharp rise in the number of English holidaymakers who return from their travels with dengue fever, according to new figures.

Officials at Public Health England (PHE) say cases of the viral illness reported among returning travellers rose by more than half (58%) between 2012 and 2013 - from 343 cases to 541 last year.

A PHE spokesman said dengue fever was most commonly reported in holidaymakers coming back from trips to Thailand or India. However, there was also a rise in the number of cases linked to holidays in Barbados last year.

The statistics highlight the importance of taking out medical travel insurance before travelling to Asia.

Symptoms of dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, include a high temperature that can reach up to 41C, headache, pain behind the eyes, bone, muscle and joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

Dengue usually clears up by itself within one or two weeks, but a small number of people go on to develop a more serious form of the disease known as 'severe dengue', which can lead to bleeding and organ damage.

PHE also reported a significant rise in the number of chikungunya fever cases - from 15 two years ago to 24 in 2013.

Similar to dengue fever, the condition is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and can cause fever and severe joint pain, which can last for months or even years in some cases. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and a rash.

Dr Jane Jones, travel and migrant health expert at PHE, described both dengue and chikungunya as "unpleasant" illnesses.

She added that no vaccine or other preventive medicine against the conditions exists, and the only way to avoid being infected is to try and avoid mosquito bites - particularly in the morning and evening, when the mosquitoes are at their most active.

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