Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses. It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Symptoms appear 3—14 days after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults.
Symptoms range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration. Use of acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. aspirin) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen) is not recommended.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever (fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, bleeding) is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses increase survival of patients.
The best prevention is personal protection against the mosquito. Malaria mosquitoes generally bite after dark, wear long sleeves and trousers in the afternoon and evening; stay in-doors if possible. Use insect repellent on exposed skin.
The South African National Travel Health Network (SaNTHNet) was formed by the Department of Health (DoH), the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the South African Society of Travel Medicine (SASTM).
You are advised to visit your general practice surgery or a travel medicine clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel. However, it is never too late to seek advice.
If you have a medical condition, you are advised to discuss the suitability of the trip before you book.