Dengue Fever Spike Prompts Auckland Health Warning
With dengue fever outbreaks across the Pacific, Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is advising anyone
travelling to the region to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.
Auckland has seen a spike in dengue fever cases with 70 percent of cases from Samoa in the last two months.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Denise Barnfather urges anyone travelling to these countries where dengue fever occurs,
particularly Samoa, to exercise caution.
"Dengue fever can be a severe illness. Those who travel to Pacific countries frequently are at risk of repeat infections
with different strains of the dengue virus. This can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal."
Symptoms of dengue fever include the sudden onset of fever for two to seven days, intense headache, muscle and joint
pain, nausea, vomiting and skin rash. People who develop dengue haemorrhagic fever may also develop symptoms of bleeding
such as bruising and nose bleeds, and internal bleeding can also occur.
There is no vaccine currently available in the Pacific for dengue fever; nor does vitamin B prevent mosquito bites. The
only way to prevent infection, says Dr Barnfather, is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
"Although the commonest time for bites is early morning and late afternoon, dengue-carrying mosquitoes also bite all
through the day."
Take precautions to ensure you avoid being bitten.
Use screens on doors and windows.
Use insect sprays.
Use mosquito coils.
Use a mosquito net over your bed at night.
You can spray this with insecticide if you wish.
Turn on air conditioning if you have it - this is very effective at keeping mosquitoes out of a room.
Wear a repellent cream or spray containing less than 35% diethyltoluamide (DEET). High concentrations are no more
effective and can be harmful.
Products containing 20-25% picaridin or 30% lemon eucalyptus oil can also be used.
When using sunscreen, apply repellent over the top of sunscreen.
Wear light coloured protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats.
Clothing can be treated with repellent.
Dr Barnfather says anyone returning from overseas with dengue symptoms, or feeling generally unwell, should contact
their GP or Healthline and let them know where they travelled. Paracetamol is recommended rather than aspirin, as
aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding from dengue infection.
New Zealand mosquitoes do not carry dengue virus, and it is not spread person to person. Despite this, says Dr
Barnfather, "dengue is not a disease you want to bring home. By taking precautions, you can reduce the risk of infection
and have a more enjoyable trip."