Travel Advice

Health Tips and Information


Travel health tips to keep you safe during your holiday or business trip.

What is dengue?

Dengue fever is a communicable illness that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world (see the map below).

Mild dengue fever causes a high fever and flu-like symptoms. The severe form of dengue fever, also called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause serious bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure and death.

  • Dengue virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Not everyone who gets infected with dengue will feel sick, only about 1 out of 4 infected people get sick.
  • Dengue symptoms usually start within a few days of being bitten but can take up to 2 weeks to develop.

 

Who is at risk?

Mosquitoes that spread dengue bite during the day and less frequently at night and are found in countries throughout the world in tropical and subtropical areas.

Previous infection with a dengue fever virus increases the risk of severe symptoms if you get dengue fever again, unlike many other infectious diseases, where previous infection can give natural immunity to the person.

 Dengue occurs in many countries of the world in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Check if dengue is a concern at your destination.

 

The following activities can increase a traveler’s chance of getting infected:

  • Traveling to destinations with risk of dengue during times of the year when mosquitoes are more common. The period of higher rates of dengue transmission goes from March to June, reaching its peak during the month of April. The month of June shows a significant decrease in the number of dengue cases, going deeper in the month of July.
  • Spending a lot of time outdoors while in destination.

How can travelers protect themselves from dengue?

  1. Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing. The mosquitoes that carry the dengue viruses are most active from dawn to dusk, but they can also bite at night.
  2. Wear protective clothing. When you go into mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes.
  3. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin.
  4. Sleep under a mosquito net: Use a mosquito net if you are unable to stay in a place with air conditioning or window and door screens or if you are sleeping outside.
  5. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent: Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below.
  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

 

Is there a vaccine for dengue?

Currently there are no dengue vaccine recommended for travelers.

The first dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia® developed by Sanofi Pasteur was licensed in December 2015. In 2019, the FDA approved the Dengvaxia® vaccine in the U.S., but with major restrictions.

The vaccine has generated significant controversy due to evidence it can increase the risk of severe infection in some people. As such, use of the vaccine is recommended only for people living in endemic areas, 9-45 years of age, who have had at least 1 episode of dengue virus infection in the past.

Dengue Fever Map

Map from:LLs, via Wikimedia Commons


Credit: cdc.gov, who.int and mayoclinic.org.

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