Dengue epidemic in the Philippines: How to best protect yourself

The Philippines have declared that the country is suffering a dengue virus epidemic. Other countries in Asia are also experiencing a considerable number of cases of the virus which is transmitted through mosquito bites.​

Since January, 146,000 persons have been infected in the Philippines and the virus has caused 622 deaths. In addition to the Philippines, the authorities are reporting major outbreaks in Malaysia, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

However, there is no cause for panic if you are planning to travel to Asia during the coming months. Niels Højlyng, a Medical Practitioner specialising in tropical diseases, says that it is very rare for healthy Scandinavians to fall seriously ill from the dengue virus:

- Overall, the risk of being infected as a tourist is very small. It is far from all mosquitoes that carry the virus and the risk of infection is greatest in land and swamp areas which are far from the typical tourist areas along the coastline, says Niels Højlyng.

Currently, there is no vaccine against the dengue virus, so your best protection is to avoid mosquito bites. If you are bitten by mosquitoes nonetheless, you should just calmly bide your time:

- Only contact a medical practitioner if you experience symptoms. You cannot test for the virus until the disease breaks out, says Niels Højlyng.

Symptoms of dengue fever typically arise on day 3 to 5 as elevated temperature, a rash, headache and muscle pain, just like in the case of a severe flu.

In singular and rare cases, the virus causes a severe deficiency in blood platelets which may be dangerous if left untreated. Serious cases of the disease can usually be treated at the hospital with transfusions of blood platelets, amongst others.

This is how to avoid being bitten by mosquitos:

  • Apply mosquito spray or balm to uncovered skin
  • Wear clothes which cover most of your body
  • Sleep under mosquito nets and close windows and doors
  • Be careful around stagnant water

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