By Alyah Khan
If you are planning to travel abroad this month or in the months ahead, it is important to understand the health risks of the country you will be visiting. More than 125 million international tourists visit dengue endemic countries annually and are therefore at risk of infection, according to the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations.
Dengue is endemic in more than 100 countries in Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. (Check out theDengue Watch site for a real-time look at where dengue is occurring around the world.) In these countries, outbreaks occur every year, usually during the rainy season when mosquito populations are high.
Australian news media recently warned about the danger posed by dengue fever to Southeast Asia travelers. Dengue was detected in about sixty travelers returning from places like Bali and East Timor.
The latest news reports about rising dengue cases have primarily focused on countries such as Pakistan, Brazil and Malaysia. In addition, it was reported last year that dengue had reemerged in the United States in Hawaii, Florida and Texas. Dengue can no longer be regarded as a disease that affects foreign countries, which is something to keep in mind while traveling within the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently has no travel health warnings or travel health precautions in effect. However, CDC does have updated information on dengue outbreaks in the Marshall Islands and in Tropical and Subtropical Regions.
“International travelers’ risk of dengue infection can vary dependent on transmission in the areas as well as exposure to mosquitoes. You are at greater risk when an outbreak or epidemic is occurring,” the CDC states.
CDC offers recommendations on how to reduce one’s risk of dengue infection while traveling that can be found here. Further information on dengue, including mode of transmission, clinical presentation, diagnosis, and preventative measures for travelers can be found on this backgrounder.