Travelers: Beware of Mosquitoes

If your travel plans include a Caribbean cruise or another tropical destination, the August issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers a convincing reason to pack the mosquito repellant — dengue fever.

Certain mosquitoes spread dengue (DENG-gay) fever, a severe flu-like illness that leaves you feeling miserable for one to two weeks. Dengue fever is a major health concern, with an estimated 50 million dengue infections occurring every year. There’s no treatment other than bed rest, plenty of fluids and medication to reduce fever.

Less commonly, potentially deadly hemorrhagic dengue fever may develop, requiring emergency hospital care. Hemorrhagic dengue fever is more likely if you’re infected with a second dengue virus after having one previously.

Dengue virus is constantly present in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, North and South America, islands of the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. Mosquitoes carrying the virus have been found in Texas and in the southeastern United States.

If you’ve returned from a destination where the dengue virus is present and you develop a fever, see a doctor as soon as possible. A blood test can determine if you have an active dengue virus.

The best remedy is prevention: avoid mosquito bites. Use mosquito repellant with a DEET content of 30 to 35 percent and wear protective clothing.

Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today’s health and medical news. To subscribe, please call toll free 800-333-9037, extension 9PR1.

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