Dengue fever has returned to North Queensland only two months after health officials declared an end to the outbreak.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection that has become a major international public health concern in recent decades. Caused by the bite of a mosquito infected with a Dengue virus, a mosquito can acquire the virus by biting an infected person and then be able to transmit the virus to another person. The mosquito remains infectious for the rest of its life.
Dengue is usually found in tropical and sub-tropical regions including South East Asia, India, the Carribean, South and Central America and Africa. Most cases of Dengue reported are associated with travel to South East Asia and India. Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia have all reported an increase in cases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there may be 50 million Dengue infections worldwide every year.
After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, the incubation period ranges from 3 to 14 days before symptoms may appear. Some people who contract Dengue do not have any symptoms at all, with young children often having a fever with a rash, but other symptoms being minor. Older children and adults may have mild symptoms; however they are more likely to experience a sudden onset of high fever and the following symptoms:
- severe headache (especially behind the eyes)
- muscle and joint pain (ankle, knees and elbow)
- flushing of face and neck
- unpleasant metallic taste in mouth, loss of appetite, sickness, vomiting and diarrhoea
- a bumpy red rash which starts on the chest, back or stomach and spreads towards the limbs and face.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against Dengue. To control and prevent yourself from Dengue (see fact sheet):
- elimiate mosquito breedint sites (e.g.: tyres, buckets)
- wear insect repellent
- spray insect surface spray in dark and shady places where mosquitoes like to hide.
If any symptoms of Dengue are experienced, apply insect repellent and see a doctor immediately.