Dengue in Vietnam Prompts Travel Warning

By Joseph F. John, JR, MD, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA, Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Ralph H. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center; Professor of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, is Co-Editor of Infectious Disease Alert.

Dr. Jenson reports no financial relationships in this field of study.

Dengue is a debilitating acute infection that is hard but not impossible to prevent. ProMed now reports that Viet Nam has become an increasingly popular travel destination with Westerners (http://www.promedmail.org). At the end of September the Ministry of Health's Preventive Healthcare Department in Hanoi posted an update and warning. Thus far this year there has been 51,000 cases of dengue in Vietnam, 42 of which have been fatal.

There is currently no antiviral treatment for dengue. So, travelers to the Far East should be aware of how to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Travel tips include:

  • There are now several repellents on the market that are effective.
  • There are even repellent now within impregnated clothing that can add to protection.
  • Travelers should become aware as they settle into a tourist destination of the pattern of mosquito activity in that area.
  • Locals often know if there are daytime biters, evening feeders, etc.
  • The duration of the bite may make some difference in transmission so the athletic act of swatting a mosquito that is taking anchor on the skin may have some importance. Using a sideswipe motion helps avoid driving the bite deeper into the skin.
  • Wearing clothing that is least attractive to mosquito also is a trick to learn from the locals.

References

  1. http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/social-issues/230739/dengue-fever-cases-continue-to-rise.html
  2. Mosquito: A Natural History of Our Most Persistent and Deadly Foe…by Andrew Spielman Sc.D., Michael D'Antonio, Hyperion, New York 2001