17 October 2012
People in Jersey travelling to Madeira are being advised to take preventative measures against mosquito bites after the Madeiran health authorities confirms an outbreak of dengue fever.
This is the first time the infection has been reported in Madeira, where 18 cases have been confirmed and a further 256 are suspected. The Madeiran authorities have put in place a robust response to the situation.
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by daytime feeding mosquitoes. It is mainly found in south east Asia and the Western Pacific but in recent years there have been outbreaks in southern Europe. Dengue is not transmitted from person to person.
Consultant microbiologist, Dr Ivan Muscat, said "Although we have no wish to alarm individuals, travellers to Madeira do need know about its presence there, what to do if they think they have caught dengue and most importantly what to do to avoid contracting dengue in the first place.
"The incubation period for dengue fever is four to ten days. There may be no symptoms or it can present with a mild, flu like illness or with more severe illness with an abrupt onset of fever, and one or more of headache, pain behind the eyes and in muscles and joints, nausea, vomiting and a rash. Illness lasts between three and seven days.
"No specific treatment is available for dengue fever so prevention is really important and the only preventative measure available is to avoid mosquito bites. There is no vaccine. Travellers are advised to wear loose, long sleeved tops, long trousers and socks, use air conditioned rooms/mosquito screens and most importantly apply 50% DEET to exposed skin as well as legs and ankles even if the latter are covered."
GPs in Jersey have been informed about the Madeiran outbreak. Anyone who develops symptoms within 7 to 14 days after returning from Madeira is advised to contact their GP. Only paracetamol should be taken to manage fever and other flu-like symptoms. Anyone who suspects they may have dengue is being warned not to take aspirin, nurofen (also known as ibuprofen) or diclofenac.