Expatriate Health Insurance News: Outbreak of dengue fever in Madeira -
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Expatriate Health Insurance News: Outbreak of dengue fever in Madeira

Expatriates living in Madeira should be aware of an outbreak of dengue fever on the island which has seen a British holidaymaker contract the disease.

The unnamed Brit is among 456 cases which have been reported on the Portuguese territory in the last couple of weeks, reports The Telegraph.

Dengue fever is spread by mosquitoes, just as malaria is, and the outbreak has prompted the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to issue a warning to anyone visiting or living in Madeira.

It has said that people must avoid getting bitten by the insects by covering up in long trousers and sleeves, especially in the evenings and protecting any exposed skin with insect repellent.

Every year there are hundreds of cases of dengue fever reported in Brits, but most contract the disease in destinations such as Thailand and India.

It is a relatively recent development for the disease to be prevalent in Madeira, but no less of a serious one with 52 cases confirmed and a subsequent 404 suspected.

Becoming infected with the virus only occurs when a person is bitten by the Aedes mosquito and cannot be contracted from human to human.

The symptoms of dengue fever normally start with the patient complaining of a fever, which can move onto bone pain and a rash.

In the most severe of cases, liver failure and low blood pressure which can be particularly dangerous can occur.

Dr Jane Jones, a travel-associated infection expert at the HPA, said: "To minimise the risk of being bitten it is advisable to wear appropriate clothing to cover up – such as long sleeve tops and trousers, and to use insect repellents.

"Anyone who develops a fever or flu-like symptoms within two weeks of returning from a trip to Madeira should seek medical advice from NHS Direct or their GP."

It is not possible to vaccinate against dengue fever or take medication to prevent contracting the virus, so practical measures must be taken and expat health insurance taken out in case the worst should happen.

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