Isn't there a dengue vaccine?
There is one licensed dengue vaccine at the moment, which is only partially effective, although others are being developed. Any vaccine needs to protect against all four strains of dengue - and against any new strains that emerge in the future. The current dengue vaccine is not available in the UK.
We know that immunity to one strain of dengue makes infection with another strain of dengue more severe, and potentially dangerous. The concern with dengue vaccine has always been that, by making you immune to one strain of dengue, infection with other strains would be more dangerous.
The current dengue vaccine seems to prevent about 2/3 of cases of severe dengue, and to be more effective in preventing second attacks of dengue in children who have already had one attack. It is available for people aged 9-45 years who live in dengue-affected areas. It is licensed in Indonesia, the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Paraguay.
How can I avoid catching dengue?
If you have a choice about when and where you travel, avoid travelling to areas where there is a dengue outbreak.
Mosquito nets will not protect against the Aedes mosquito, as it bites during the day. Insect repellents, particularly those containing N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET), will reduce the number of mosquito bites and therefore the chance of catching dengue.
Consider using permethrin or other repellent to further repel mosquitoes from your clothing, and wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, and other clothes that cover exposed skin.
Can I catch dengue more than once?
Infection provides lifelong immunity only against the strain of dengue that you have had, so you can be infected again with a different strain. Second infections are more likely to make you unwell.
Further reading and references
Dengue and severe dengue; World Health Organization, July 2016
Dengue Clinical Guide - Treatment Algorithm; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Vasilakis N, Weaver SC; The history and evolution of human dengue emergence. Adv Virus Res. 200872:1-76. doi: 10.1016/S0065-3527(08)00401-6.
Dengue fever; National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC)
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