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Travel: Sharp rise in dengue fever cases

Cases of dengue fever in travellers have increased by 58%, the latest figures show. 

India and Thailand continue to be the most frequent countries of travel reported for dengue cases, however there was also an increase in cases associated with travel to Barbados. 

A total of 541 cases of the viral infection, which is spread by mosquitos, were reported in 2013.

Symptoms of dengue fever include: 

 - Headache. 

 - Pain behind the eyes

 - Bone, muscle and joint pain. 

 - A high temperature that can reach 41ºC (105.8ºF)

There has also been an increase in chikungunya, with 24 cases reported in 2013 compared to 15 cases in 2012, mostly acquired in India and South East Asia. 

Dr Jane Jones, travel and migrant health expert at PHE said: “Dengue fever and chikungunya are unpleasant viral illnesses that are transmitted by day-biting mosquitoes. 

“As there is no specific preventive medicine or vaccination against dengue fever or chikungunya, prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites particularly around dusk and dawn when the day biting mosquitoes are most active.” 

In December 2013, indigenously acquired chikungunya was first reported in St Martin, a French overseas territory in the Caribbean. 

By July 2014, at least 22 other islands and territories in the region had also reported indigenous chikungunya, this includes four cases reported in the UK associated with travel to the Caribbean.

Chikungunya fever is a viral illness with similar symptoms to dengue fever, although joint pains may be a more prominent feature. 

It is found in parts of Asia and Africa but has recently spread to the Caribbean and parts of South and Central America. It is transmitted by the same species - day-biting Aedes mosquitoes - that transmit dengue fever.