Dengue in Madeira (Portugal)
An outbreak of dengue fever has been reported in Madeira, Portugal. This is the first occasion on which Dengue has been identified in the Atlantic holiday destination. As of 10 October 2012, a total of 18 confirmed cases and 191 probable cases have been reported. Portuguese authorities are putting in place control measures to reduce the risk of sustained transmission locally, to minimize the impact on the affected population and to prevent the export of infected vectors from the island.
Dengue Fever (also known as break bone fever) is a severe, flu-like viral illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, Aedes mosquitoes being the type most commonly associated with Dengue Fever. This type of mosquito tends to bite more during the daytime and at dawn and dusk. It is found commonly throughout the tropics and subtropics and is endemic in about 100 countries.
Dengue Fever is generally milder in children and more severe in adults. It is an unpleasant condition with fever, chills, headache, backache and prostration (extreme exhaustion). The illness can typically last up to ten days. Full recovery is usual. Occasionally, the illness progresses to Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) both of which can be fatal. These are however, rare in travellers to endemic areas; these complications are more common in people who live in an area affected by Dengue and have been repeatedly exposed to the virus.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Dengue fever - the only way to reduce the risk of being infected is by avoiding mosquito bites.
If you are travelling to Madeira (or other denginous areas - see here http://www.healthmap.org/dengue/index.php for a map of Dengue distribution), you should protect yourself against mosquito bites (see here http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Vectorborne/Mosquitoes/Protectyourselfagainstmosquitoes/ on Protecting yourself and your family against biting mosquitoes.
If you have travelled to Madeira (or other denginous areas) and you develop aches and chills within 10 days of your return, you should contact your doctor and let her/him know that you have travelled to an area affected by Dengue.
Further information on the Dengue situation in Madeira is available from the WHO at http://www.who.int/csr/don/2012_10_17/en/index.html. Up to date data on the situation is available from ECDC at http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/press/news/Lists/News/ECDC_DispForm.aspx?List=32e43ee8%2De230%2D4424%2Da783%2D85742124029a&ID=760&RootFolder=%2Fen%2Fpress%2Fnews%2FLists%2FNews. And fuller information on Dengue is available on the website of the HPSC at http://www.hpsc.ie/hpsc/A-Z/Vectorborne/DengueFever.