Six British holidaymakers have contracted Dengue after visiting the Portuguese Island of Madeira. Since the viral infection was detected three weeks ago the Health Protection Agency has reported 52 cases of the potentially deadly disease and a further 456 are suspected. This is the first time Dengue has been reported in Madeira.
Dengue fever is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito carrying the virus and cannot be passed from person to person. Symptoms can range from a mild flu-like illness including headache and shivering to a rash and bone pain. In around 5% of cases Dengue fever can lead to severe complications and death. The World Health Organization has estimated that 2.5 billion people are at risk of acquiring dengue fever and that approximately 50 million infections occur each year. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world affecting approximately 100 countries in Africa, South and Central America, Asia, eastern Mediterranean, and western Pacific. There have been a small handful of cases in recent years in Europe.
Reuters reported earlier this year the death of an 80-year-old man. This is the first case of dengue in Greece since an outbreak in 1927-28. Greece is currently suffering from an upsurge in a number of mosquito-borne diseases.
The health authorities in Madeira are investigating and implementing control and prevention measures, alongside a public awareness campaign but if you are traveling to Madeira take precautions against being bitten. Here are some tips:
How To Avoid Being Bitten By Mosquitoes
- Mosquito activity peaks around dusk and dawn so it is advisable to stay indoors at these times.
- If you choose to be outside wear light colours. Make sure tops are long sleeved and trousers full length.
- Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin.
- Avoid using strong fragrances as this will alert mosquitoes to your presence.
- Make sure all windows are closed at dawn and dusk, and that all insect guards are secure.