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Dengue Fever Cases Double Among UK Holidaymakers


The number of cases of dengue fever among UK holidaymakers has doubled, say experts at the Health Protection Agency. In 2010, the number of reported cases of dengue fever among UK holidaymakers rose to 449, from just 177 in 2009. Holidaymakers are thought to be aware of the dangers of catching malaria on holiday in certain parts of the world – but dengue fever remains a disease that few consider when booking a holiday.

The illness develops as a result of being bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, whereas malaria is caused by the Anopheles mosquito. The Aedes aegypti mosquito inflicts bites mainly during the day, whereas the Anopheles tends to bite at night.

Symptoms of dengue fever include high temperature and fever and feeling weak, with aching limbs. Skin rashes may also occur, as well as headache, nausea and muscle and joint pain.

There is also a danger of the fever resulting in dengue haemorrhagic fever (known as dengue shock syndrome) or extremely low blood pressure – both conditions can cause death.

Regions of the world where holidaymakers may be most at risk of contracting dengue fever include South East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, South America, and the Caribbean, where many British tourists now spend holidays.

Caribbean resorts such as Jamaica, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico have become increasingly popular holiday destinations for UK holidaymakers – although in 2010 a case of dengue fever was reported in southern France, the first case to be diagnosed in mainland Europe since 1928.

In January, 39-year-old BBC radio producer Bee Rowlatt was diagnosed with dengue fever after returning home with her husband and four children from a holiday in the Caribbean. Ms Rowlatt says she felt ill and went to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, north London, where blood tests confirmed she was suffering from dengue fever.

“I hadn’t gone anywhere risky like jungles or mosquito-infested bogs, only touristy places,” said Mrs Rowlatt.

“But about eight days after returning I felt extremely ill. Within a day I was physically unable to pick up my baby. My limbs were incredibly weak and I had a very high temperature.”

Mrs Rowlatt recovered after six weeks.

Dengue specialist Dr Michael Jacobs of the Royal Free said that avoiding day-biting mosquitoes was not always possible, so holidaymakers should use insect repellant containing DEET and wear loose clothing to cover up, as well as putting on sunscreen before using insect repellant. ‘You won’t avoid all bites, but the fewer you get, the less chance there is of getting dengue,” said Dr Jacobs.

If you have suffered illness or accident whilst abroad, you may be able to make a claim for Holiday Compensation.

Simpson Millar has a dedicated Travel Team experienced in handling claims against UK tour operators and can advise you on your case.

Your case may be eligible for a 'No Win No Fee' arrangement.

Call 0808 145 1351 or complete the online enquiry form for a free assessment of your claim.

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Dated: 02/12/2011