Dengue should be considered in any traveller who has fever and symptoms occurring within three weeks of travel to a tropical area, especially an epidemic area. Because there is no vaccine, travellers must take measures to avoid mosquito bites.
According to reports published recently by ProMED (Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases), outbreaks of dengue fever have been diagnosed in Timor over the last few months, with at least 150 cases found in visitors to the area returning to Australia. These imported cases are in addition to the usual average of over 50 cases reported each year in Australia. This year, the incidence in Australia is rising, with 49 cases reported in February alone, mainly in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Epidemics have increased in frequency and severity in most tropical countries worldwide, and this is expected to continue indefinitely. Over 100 million cases of dengue occur each year, half a million of which are the haemorrhagic form, with 25,000 fatalities.
A recent article has emphasised the delay or absence of disease notification in Australia, which may pose a significant risk to public health. Given the increasing incidence of dengue, it is worthwhile considering some relevant points.