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Dengue fever increase revealed

The number of British tourists affected by dengue fever has more than doubled in the last 12 months, according to figures.

Information released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed that there were 406 reports of the disease in 2010, up from 166 in 2009.

Dengue fever is not found in the UK. Most of the cases in Britain were reported among people who had spent time in India (21% or 84 cases), followed by Thailand (15% or 61 cases).

It is spread by mosquito bites. Experts also revealed that there was a 34% climb in cases of chikungunya, another disease spread this way.

There was also a jump from 59 cases of this disease in 2009 to 79 in 2010, with nearly 50% of those victims returning from a trip to India.

The dengue virus causes severe flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature or fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, reddening of the face and skin rash.

There is no vaccine to protect against the virus, and people usually recover within a few weeks.

Chikungunya also causes flu-like symptoms and joint pains that can last for several months.

Both diseases are endemic in Asia and Africa. Dengue is also common in South America, Central America and the Caribbean, and the Western Pacific.

Dr Jane Jones, head of the HPA's travel and migrant health section, said: "Anyone travelling to a tropical destination should take appropriate advice from a health professional or a travel health clinic at least six to eight weeks before they travel to ensure they are aware of the risks and how they can best protect themselves from illness."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Health Protection Agency

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Practice nurses may not always have the time allocated to give all the information needed for travel health, especially if the patient is going to many destinations on their trip. To send the patient to a travel health clinic might be the best option as they have a wealth of experience and can usually spend more time with the client/patient, so able to go through all the countries visiting and give the appropriate advice on vaccinations/prophylaxis and bite avoidance. I always give 30 mins to a hour appointments in my clinic. I also give lots of hand outs and print of relevant information for the patient to reinforce what I have said, so they can take away and read at
their leisure" - Karen Barraclough, Manchester

"Strongly agreed re good and correct advice re travel health re subjects" - Sau Watson, London