Getting bitten on holiday by a pesky mosquito can be annoying at the best of times. However, the risk from this is real and serious. The situation can be particularly serious if you’re unlucky enough to be bitten by the Aedes mosquito, the mosquito that spreads Dengue fever. Dengue fever carries the symptoms of a common flu-like infection, but it can develop into a serious and potentially fatal illness. There is no cure for dengue fever and avoidance is key.

Make sure to do all you can to avoid getting infected by following our handy little guide on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of dengue fever. We’ve also come up with a list of things you can do to prevent getting bitten in high-risk areas. For more information on avoiding mosquito and insect bites, see here: (insert link on insect bites?).

So what causes it?

Getting bitten on holiday by a pesky mosquito can be annoying at the best of times. However, the risk from this is real and serious. The situation can be particularly serious if you’re unlucky enough to be bitten by the Aedes mosquito, the mosquito that spreads Dengue fever. Dengue fever carries the symptoms of a common flu-like infection, but it can develop into a serious and potentially fatal illness. There is no cure for dengue fever and avoidance is key.

Make sure to do all you can to avoid getting infected by following our handy little guide on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of dengue fever. We’ve also come up with a list of things you can do to prevent getting bitten in high-risk areas. For more information on avoiding mosquito and insect bites, see here.

How do I know if I’ve got dengue fever?

Maybe you’ve been enjoying the tropical climate in the Caribbean, sunning yourself on beaches, or maybe you’ve been backpacking across South-East Asia with your mates. If you’ve been bitten by a mosquito that’s infected with the dengue virus, then you might not even notice for a few days after the bite itself.

But if you have had a mosquito bite and you’ve been travelling in one of these areas, look out for these symptoms:

  • A high temperature and fever that lasts from a couple of days up to a week.
  • Headache or pain behind the eyes.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • A red rash that usually starts on the back, chest or tummy and spreads through to your arms, legs and face.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • A loss of appetite.

Again, these symptoms usually only begin somewhere between 5 and 8 days after you’ve been bitten. Sometimes you might not even notice the illness at all, because these symptoms can be quite mild. But, if you think that you or someone you’re travelling with has any of these symptoms after travelling to areas at high risk of dengue fever, then get in touch with your GP or someone at your local Superdrug Travel Clinic as soon as possible to make sure.

If your doctor thinks you might have dengue fever then they’ll probably ask you to take a blood test to check whether you have any signs of the virus in your bloodstream.

What will the treatment be?

In most cases, dengue fever tends to just be an unpleasant virus rather than anything too serious, and your body should be able to fight the virus off within 3 to 4 days after the rash appears. Because of this, there isn’t a specific treatment for dengue fever that your doctor can offer you. Instead, there are a few things you can do more generally to help recover from it:

  • Drink plenty of of water and non-alcoholic drinks to stay hydrated.
  • Oral rehydration salts are another great way to stop yourself from becoming dehydrated if you have a bad fever.
  • Rest up! Like all viruses, it’s important that you take it easy for a while until you get better.
  • Take paracetamol tablets for the pain. Avoid ibuprofen or aspirin as these can make any bleeding you have worse.

MYTHBUSTING: some people say that after you’ve been infected with dengue fever then you become immune to the virus for the rest of your life. While this can be true in some cases, it isn’t always the case. There are four types of virus that cause dengue fever. Just getting one type of the virus won’t protect you against the other three types in the future, so it’s always best to take precautions against mosquito bites when you’re travelling to areas of high risk.

More serious problems with dengue fever:

In some rare cases, dengue fever can develop into a more serious and potentially fatal form of the illness known as ‘severe dengue’. This is a complication of the fever that is most likely to happen in children under 15 but also in people who’ve been infected more than once with the virus. If you’re living for a long period of time in areas where dengue fever is common, then you’re going to be more at risk of multiple infection.

If you experience any of these symptoms, then you need to seek urgent medical attention:

  • Bleeding from under the skin, gums or nose.
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood when you go to the toilet.
  • Severe pain in your tummy.
  • A sudden drop in blood sugar (dengue shock syndrome).

In these cases, you will be taken to hospital for further treatment. With the right treatment, most people even with severe dengue fever will make a full recovery.

How can I avoid getting dengue fever?

At the moment, there aren’t any vaccines you can have to avoid getting the fever, so the best way to avoid it is by avoiding mosquito bites altogether. This, as anyone who’s ever been bitten by a mosquito will tell you, is always good practice! Here are our top 5 tips for avoiding mosquito bites:

  • Get covered! Long-sleeved tops and trousers are best. Try to wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible.
  • Stock up on plenty of insect repellent before you go. Ask someone at your local Superdrug Travel Clinic about the different types you can get for your skin and clothes.
  • Bring a mosquito net for bed. Go to any good travel equipment or camping shop to buy one of the latest nets treated with repellent and insecticides.
  • Try to stay away from areas where mosquitoes like to breed as much as possible. Urban areas or standing water sources are particularly risky.
  • Take extra precautions during the day and around dawn and dusk, when the Aedes mosquito tends to bite most.