New figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) reveal that cases of dengue fever have more than doubled in 2010 and chikungunya cases have increased by 34% in UK travellers.
Most cases of these mosquito-transmitted diseases were acquired during travel to Asia and Africa, and in the case of dengue, also during travel to the Americas and the Caribbean.
Symptoms for both dengue and chikungunya (or CHIKV) include sudden onset of a flu-like illness with fever, muscle pain, headache and a rash. Chikungunya can cause joint pains that can persist for several months.
Both diseases are endemic in Asia and Africa and dengue is also common in many other parts of the world including South America, Central America and the Caribbean and the Western Pacific.
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue or CHIKV. You can reduce the risk of infection by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
What to do
The mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya bite in the day, compared with those that spread malaria which are mainly active from dusk to dawn. To minimise the risk of being bitten it is advisable to:
- Use insect repellents
- Wear appropriate clothing to cover up - such as long sleeve tops and trousers
- Take appropriate advice from your doctor or a travel health clinic at least 6-8 weeks before you travel so you know the risks and how to protect yourself from illness
- Use mosquito nets at night, particularly in areas where both malaria and these other mosquito borne illnesses co-exist
- Monitor our travel advice for information on outbreaks or incidents of dengue, CHIKV and other diseases.