The United Kingdom has issued a new health advisory for Britons travelling to the Caribbean following a surge in the incidence of dengue fever in England. The steep rise in British cases of the mosquito-borne disease has forced the health agency Public Health England (PHE) to warn travelers to be on the alert for signs of the illness after visiting the Caribbean.
The health agency is also advising travelers to seek medical advice if they experience fever and other flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning home to Britain from destinations such as Barbados, Jamaica, Brazil, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and several other countries in the Americas and Asia.
The advice came after 11 travelers returned home to England from Barbados reporting dengue-like symptoms between January and April. Six had similar symptoms after visiting Jamaica, nine Brazil, Sri Lanka 13, and 37 from Thailand.
At the end of April, authorities had documented 141 confirmed and probable cases of dengue fever in England, up from 51 recorded during the same period last year.
The total number of cases in England in 2012 was 343, as compared with 223 in 2011.
“The increase in the number of people returning with dengue fever is concerning, so we want to remind people of the need to practice strict mosquito bite avoidance at all times to reduce their risk of becoming unwell,” said Jane Jones, a PHE expert in travel-related infections.
PHE is advising travelers to use insect repellent and wear protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts and pants to deter mosquitoes, especially at dusk and dawn. The agency said that a “very small” number of people go on to develop more serious health problems requiring hospitalization.