Dengue: Underrated

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Temple in Palenque, Mexico

When I went to get my travel vaccinations for my trip to Central America, I heard about typhoid, yellow fever, and the dreaded Malaria. However, I was not aware of a disease called Dengue. Maybe because there is no immunization or cure for this illness they find it irrelevant to inform people about it?

Dengue is a painful disease that gives you a terrible fever, extreme joint pain, and severe headaches. Because there is no known cure, the best they can do for you is make you comfortable, give you an IV and wait it out in a hospital bed.

Since I’ve been in Central America, I have been taking malaria medication regularly, but throughout my travels, I have not met or heard about people getting malaria. When I spent 2 weeks in Honduras, I met a little boy who was hospitalized with Dengue, another kid from the school I volunteered for had it earlier that year and one of the volunteers as well. Soon after, they declared a state of emergency for an outbreak of Dengue.

I believe it’s important for doctors to advise travelers of Dengue before they go on a trip, especially if the outbreak continues. Tropical locations such as Southeast Asia, Latin America and parts of Africa are where this disease thrives. It can be a life-threatening disease and deserves proper precaution.

Throughout my travels this summer, I can have come up with three very important tips to help those who might find themselves traveling in areas where Dengue is growing.

1. Deet: Though not 100 percent effective, Deet is a strong repellent that will get the job done. While some on my trip have the spray, it did not stop the mosquitoes from attempting to attack us! Although Deet is not known to be the best thing for you, a few sprays of the strong stuff will keep you well protected.

2. Clothing: I spent an extra few dollars to buy a couple of shirts with permethrin woven into the fabric which lasts up to 70 washes and I found them good to sleep in at night or on a hike through the forest. I also went the extra mile to buy a sleeping liner with permethrin because I didn’t have a mosquito net, but that is an extra precaution not absolutely necessary.

3. Be aware of your surroundings: Dengue is most common in urban areas where there are spots of stagnant water where the Mosquitoes can lay their eggs. I saw many houses being fumigated because they had stale puddles of water in the vicinity. Also, don’t be shy and talk to the locals! One woman who just picked her son up from the hospital with Dengue told us that the larger Mosquitoes are most known to carry the disease.

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