Dengue fever cases have been rising steadily in the Dominican Republic this year. With more than 3000 cases reported so far this year, authorities are urging residents and tourists to act cautiously and to take steps to prevent infection. Fortunately, most cases of dengue fever are highly treatable. Here’s what travelers need to know before, during, and after their trip to the Dominican Republic when it comes to dengue fever.
Dengue fever cases have spiked in recent weeks in the Dominican Republic, prompting authorities to sound the alarm. Hurricane Fiona, which wreaked havoc in the country a little over a week ago, as well as increased precipitation levels, are thought to be helping the disease spread.
Compared to the same period last year, cases are up more than 295%, and 18 deaths have been reported so far, mostly affecting younger patients. A particularly worrying characteristic of the disease is that the mosquitos that carry it usually thrive in urban areas, where they can easily transmit the disease to humans. Outbreaks have been reported in several Dominican cities, including the capital Santo Domingo.
Dengue Fever: The Basics
Dengue is an infectious disease transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The main species carrying the disease is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also found in the Dominican Republic. The disease is especially prevalent in tropical countries, where temperatures remain stable year-round.
There are 4 types of dengue virus, which cause flu-like symptoms to appear in infected individuals. One of the tell-tale signs of dengue is a high fever (104°F), accompanied by two of the following symptoms over the febrile phase, which usually last from 2 to 7 days:
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pain
How Can Dengue Fever Be Prevented?
The most important thing visitors can do during their trip is to prevent mosquito bites. Travelers should regularly apply mosquito repellent, especially when going to wet outdoor places like rainforests or mountain excursions.
Mosquitos thrive in damp outdoor areas, including urban zones, where they reproduce. If you are visiting the Dominican Republic and staying in a private rental home, make sure to check outdoor areas that may contain stagnant water sources, such as buckets, pools, and ponds, where mosquito larvae can be found. Visitors can also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when visiting high-risk areas, in addition to applying repellent.
Authorities are regularly monitoring dengue outbreaks in the Dominican Republic, so it’s important to check for health updates before your trip. So far this year, the most cases of dengue fever have been reported in the following provinces: Monte Cristi, Hato Mayor, San José de Ocoa, Santiago, and Dajabón.
What Are The Treatment Options?
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, and the overwhelming majority of cases improve with rest and adequate hydration. Severe cases may require hospitalization, and patients can use fever reducers or painkillers (paracetamol) to treat the more unpleasant symptoms.
What To Do If You Suspect An Infection
Dengue fever symptoms can be hard to distinguish from those of other illnesses like the flu. If you notice unusual symptoms such as pain behind the eye, muscle or joint pain, and a high fever, you should contact the nearest clinic or hospital for further evaluation.
Dengue is especially risky for children and elderly people, who are more likely to be affected by severe forms of the disease. Around 1 in 20 people with dengue will develop severe symptoms, according to the CDC, in which case hospitalization may be necessary.
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