Dengue fever cases in Madeira, Portugal
12 October 2012
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware of 18 confirmed cases and 191 probable cases of dengue fever in Madeira, Portugal since early October 2012.
This is the first time that dengue fever has been reported in Madeira. Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection and it is important that all travellers should avoid mosquito bites when visiting the region. It can cause a range of clinical symptoms from a mild flu-like illness to a more serious illness including rash and bone pain and can sometimes lead to severe complications.
There have not been any cases of dengue fever in UK travellers associated with travel to Madeira to date and the risk for travellers and residents will depend on the course of the outbreak in the coming weeks. The health authorities in Madeira are investigating and implementing control and prevention measures, alongside a public awareness campaign.
Dr Jane Jones, a travel-associated infection expert at the HPA, said: “Dengue fever cannot be passed from person to person and infection occurs after being bitten by the Aedes mosquito carrying the virus.
“To minimise the risk of being bitten it is advisable to wear appropriate clothing to cover up - such as long sleeve tops and trousers, and to use insect repellents.”
Dr Dipti Patel, joint director of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), said: “There is no specific preventive medicine or vaccination against dengue fever and prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites particularly around dusk and dawn when the day biting mosquitoes are most active.
“Anyone who develops a fever or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning from a trip to Madeira should seek medical advice from NHS Direct or their GP.”
Notes to editors:
- 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. Dengue fever does not occur in the UK but is reported in a number of UK travellers returning from endemic areas. In 2010, 406 cases of dengue fever were reported in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a high proportion of whom had acquired their infections in India and Thailand.
- More information on dengue fever is available from the HPA website or NHS Choices [external link].
- More information on dengue fever for health professionals and travellers is also available from the NaTHNaC website www.nathnac.org [external link] including specific advice on insect bite avoidance [external link].
- National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) is commissioned by the Health Protection Agency and hosted by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It works in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the Department of Health and the Health Protection Agency to achieve its objective of improving standards in travel medicine.
- The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013 the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: www.hpa.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk.
- For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.
Last reviewed: 12 October 2012