Health & Medical

Everything you need to know about dengue fever

Reading time: 2 minutes

Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who has suffered from the dreaded dengue fever. It’s more common than the common mosquito and it can wreak havoc on your tropical holiday. Just ask our travel blogger, Erin Bender.

So what is dengue fever and what can you do to ensure that the only bites you experience in Bali involve eating chicken satay.


What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is the fastest growing vector-borne (that means mosquitoes) illness in the world. The Aedes mosquitoes carry the illness and they’re found most commonly in tropical regions such as Bali, Indonesia and Thailand. Once a mosquito bites a person who has dengue fever, the mosquito then carries the virus for life. Once it bites someone new, it passes the virus on to them. In a cruel twist of irony, there are no detrimental effects to the mosquito itself once it’s contracted the virus. Humans on the other hand…

What are the symptoms of dengue fever?

Dengue fever is not contagious, but can make you very sick. Symptoms include fever, nausea, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a skin rash (that looks a lot like measles or a serious sunburn). In worst cases, the disease can develop into the life-threatening dengue haemorrhagic fever. Diagnosis is made clinically, as the disease can look similar to chikungunya and other viral infections.

How do you treat dengue fever?

There are no injections or cures for dengue fever. Doctors suggest taking paracetamol to reduce the aches and pains, and to keep your fluids up. Cases requiring hospitalisation are often as a result of dehydration, in which case they are hooked up to an IV.

What can you do to prevent dengue fever?

While there are no vaccinations available for dengue fever, there are some simple things you can do to prevent being bitten.

  • Be aware – the Aedes mosquito is active throughout the day, but like it’s human prey, like to party particularly around dusk.
  • Protect yourself – wear light-weight long shirts and pants in light colours (white, beige and pastels).
  • Wear insect repellent – coat yourself in insect repellent each day. Pay special attention to areas which may not be covered by clothing, such as your hands, ankles and back of your neck.
  • Avoid stagnant water – steer clear of puddles or pools of stagnant water. This is where mosquitos breed.
  • Check your resort/hotel – tip out water which has pooled in buckets or pot plant dishes in. Alert your accommodation to any water leakages which may turn stagnant. Your hotel may also be able to offer mosquito nets, or provide mosquito repellents such as citronella.
  • Stay hydrated – dehydration can aggravate the symptoms, so drink plenty of water (even if you’re not feeling unwell.)


Kristen Hyde is a freelance wordsmith from Sydney who now lives in London because she heard the weather was awesome. You can follow her adventures in ol’ Blighty at Where in the World is KH. For more instantaneous updates of her travels, what she eats, and what she sees on the Tube, you can follow her on Instagram.

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