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April 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 40, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dengue Fever in Fiji: Should Divers Worry?

from the April, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fiji has reported more than 10,000 cases of dengue fever since October last year, including 11 deaths. It's the worst outbreak in 16 years. Even though New Zealand officials report that 24 of their 35 cases this year have come from people traveling to Fiji, Fijian officials say it's no cause for alarm for tourists -- most cases have been reported near the capital, Suva, and in inland areas. There have been no outbreaks around the coastal resorts. Authorities have been spraying insecticide across the country to try to eradicate mosquito-breeding areas, and have started a public health campaign to remind people to clean out water containers.

Dengue fever is a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms like fever and joint pain, and sufferers can occasionally develop fatal complications. Treatment usually involves rest and rehydration, with those badly affected sometimes put on an intravenous drip. Illness can last up to 10 days, but people can feel depressed and tired for weeks.

There's no vaccine, so the only way to prevent dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. If you've got an upcoming dive trip to Fiji, use bug repellent both indoors and out, and when possible, wear light-colored long sleeves and pants, a hat and shoes. If you return from the islands feeling unwell, go to a doctor.

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