According to Public Health England the number of dengue fever cases has risen by 58% from 2012 to 2013. The viral illness is being brought back to England by travellers returning home from infected regions globally.
During 2013 there were 541 reported cases of the disease from people returning to the UK. During 2012, the number of reported cases was 343.
A spokesman from PHE stated that most of the cases were in travellers who returned home from visiting India and Thailand. However, officials have also noted that the number of cases from Barbados travel has also increased.
Dengue is a viral infection which is spread by mosquitoes. The symptoms include:
• Bone, joint and muscle pain
• Pain behind the eyes
• High temperatures of up to 41⁰C
The condition normally clears up within two to three weeks. There are no medications for the infection, but the symptoms can be reduced by using paracetamol.
According to PHE, the number of chikungunya fever cases has also increased from 15 during 2012, to 24 during 2013. This is a viral illness with symptoms which are similar to dengue fever, but the pain in the joints is more pronounced. Patients generally recover fully, but in some cases arthritis and joint pain may linger for several months or sometimes years.
A travel and migrant health expert at PHE, Dr Jane Jones, said that both viral illnesses are transmitted by mosquitoes who feed during the day. She said that since there is no preventive vaccination or medicine against these illnesses, it can only be prevented by avoiding bites, particularly at dawn and dusk which is when the bugs are most active.
Image Credit: Karl Baron