Islanders travelling to and from Madeira are asked to be aware of an outbreak of Dengue fever involving some 18 confirmed and 256 probable cases which have recently been reported in Madeira.
This is the first time such an infection has been reported from Madeira. Dengue is a viral infection seen mainly in South East Asia and the Western Pacific but in recent years has also been seen in Southern Europe. It is transmitted by daytime feeding mosquitoes. It is not transmitted from person to person.
The Madeiran authorities have put in place a robust response to the situation.
Consultant microbiologist Dr Ivan Muscat said “Although we have no wish to alarm individuals, travellers to Madeira do need know about its presence in Madeira, what to do if they think they have caught dengue and most importantly what to do to avoid contracting dengue in the first place.
“The incubation period of Dengue fever is 4 to 10 days. There may be no symptoms or it can present with a mild, flu like illness or with more severe illness with an abrupt onset of fever, and one or more of headache, pain behind the eyes and in muscles and joints, nausea, vomiting and a rash. Illness lasts between 3 to 7 days.”
GPs in Jersey have been made aware of the cases in Madeira, and anyone who develops symptoms within 7 to 14 days of returning from Madeira is advised to contact their GP. Only paracetamol should be used to manage fever and the non specific flu like symptoms. Aspirin, nurofen (also known as ibuprofen) and diclofenac must not be used in possible dengue.
Dr Muscat continued: “No specific treatment is available for Dengue fever so prevention is really important and the only preventative measure available is to avoid mosquito bites. There is no vaccine. Travellers are advised to wear loose long sleeved tops, long trousers and socks, use air conditioned rooms/mosquito screens and most importantly apply 50% DEET to exposed skin as well as legs and ankles even if the latter are covered.”