In countries such as Brazil, officials are working diligently to contain a major uptick in dengue fever cases, a tropical disease carried by mosquitoes that can cause a skin rash, fever, headaches, vomiting, severe body pains, and life-threatening internal bleeding.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dengue fever is most common in tropical climates where mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus thrive such as in Central America, South America, certain parts of Africa, Southern Asia, Oceania, and southern portions of North America including Mexico.
Due to climate change, mosquitoes carrying the dengue virus are migrating further north, affecting portions of the United States and Europe as well now. This is expected to continue over the coming decades.
Is Dengue Fever Dangerous?
It certainly can be. Over 400 million people are infected with dengue fever each year. Thankfully, the vast majority remain asymptomatic, and around 25% experience nothing more than flu-like symptoms. Most people with dengue fever fully recover within a week or less, with no medical treatment necessary.
However, approximately 1 out of every 20 people infected with the dengue virus can experience severe illness in the form of dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can result in severe internal bleeding, dangerously low blood pressure, and organ damage. These cases are potentially fatal, and thus require immediate hospitalization.
How Can You Reduce the Risk of Dengue Fever?
If you’re planning on traveling to an area where dengue fever is common, your first step should be making an appointment with your doctor. They may recommend a dengue vaccine to help reduce the risk. Two common dengue fever vaccines are available, sold under the brand names of Dengvaxia and Qdenga.
The vaccine your doctor may recommend will depend on your health history, your age, and where you’re traveling. Studies indicate that dengue fever vaccines are up to 76% effective at preventing symptomatic disease in certain individuals.
We also highly recommend that you purchase travel medical insurance or travel insurance. If you are infected with a serious case of dengue fever, you could require immediate hospitalization, and the domestic health insurance you’re covered by in your home country is unlikely to be accepted abroad. A travel medical insurance or travel insurance plan can ensure that you receive the best possible care without being stuck with thousands of dollars in medical debt in a foreign country.
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