Dengue fever is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes. It is one of the most common causes of illness in the world’s tropical and subtropical regions. Symptoms are typically flu-like and rarely lead to fatalities, but the virus can develop into severe dengue (dengue hemorrhagic fever), with potentially life-threatening complications.
Risk of Dengue Fever in Peru
The risk of dengue is highest in Peru’s jungle regions and along the country’s northern extremes (near the border with Ecuador). Outbreaks normally occur in urban areas. In recent years, there have been major dengue outbreaks in Iquitos, Yurimaguas, Pucallpa and, most recently, in Cajamarca.
Dengue is an ever-growing concern on a global level, with the number of recorded cases rising each year. Peru is no exception; between January and November of 2011, at least 27 people died from severe dengue, with 23,000 recorded cases in total -- far higher than in previous years.
The fight against dengue in Peru is an ongoing process. Government health inspectors continue to educate the public in preventative measures, with a particular focus on eliminating man-made habitats in which mosquitoes can lay their eggs (such as uncovered water containers).
Dengue Fever Symptoms
Dengue fever typically includes a high fever accompanied by two or more symptoms, including:
- severe headache
- pain behind the eyes
- muscular and joint pain
- swollen glands
According to the World Health Organization, symptoms usually last for two to seven days, after an incubation period of four to ten days after the bite from an infected mosquito.
Symptoms of sever dengue normally occur three to seven days after the initial symptoms (often occurring alongside a decline in temperature). If you see any of the following warning signs, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- severe abdominal pain
- persistent vomiting
- bleeding gums or blood in vomit
- fatigue or restlessness
- breathing difficulties
- black or tarry stools
Dengue Fever Prevention for Travelers in Peru
There is no dengue fever vaccine, so travelers should try to reduce the risk of dengue infection by preventing mosquito bites. Insect repellent (containing DEET), covering bare skin with clothing and mosquito nets are common ways to guard against bites.
References and Further Reading