How to Avoid Getting Dengue Fever on a Mission Trip

Опубликовал Admin
5-10-2016, 15:40
If you’re heading out on a mission trip to a tropical area, you need to take steps to protect yourself from Dengue Fever. Though usually not fatal, Dengue Fever is not curable, so avoiding it in the first place is key.

Understanding the Disease

  1. Know what Dengue Fever is. Dengue (pronounced as ‘Den-gay’) is a communicable disease (not contagious), transmitted to humans by the biting blood meal of an infected mosquito. Once infected, the person is sick for a period of days but carries the virus thereafter. This means that they will be immune to that strain of the virus, but infection with other strains can have drastic complications. It is caused by a virus from the family of Flaviviridae and related to West Nile Virus and Yellow Fever.
    • Dengue has four different types of strains (Dengue 1, 2, 3, & 4) and all types can be carried by one infected mosquito at a time.
    • Infection with one type may feel like the flu symptoms (sometimes fever). Multiple infections at different times with different virus types may cause severe disease.
  2. Be aware of how it spreads. It is spread by two main species of Mosquitoes when they are infected: Aedes Agypt and Aedes albopictus.
    • Aedes Agypti is a daytime biter and likes stagnant water, crowds, and inside homes.
    • Aedes albopictus is an aggressive biter, mostly in outside water-filed containers (garden, trash, litter), and is very adaptive.
  3. Know if you’re at risk. Those who are more likely to contract the disease include frequent travelers to high-risk regions, especially non-native, Caucasian people, as well as young children and the elderly. Those infected with multiple different strains of the virus are especially at risk of severe complications.

Being Aware

  1. Be smart from the get-go. There is no cure or vaccine so far, so your best bet is prevention - avoid getting the disease in the first place. However, if the disease is contracted, care for the symptoms as well as possible.
  2. Educate yourself about the symptoms so you know what to look for. For many, the virus is asymptomatic or has only mild symptoms like an uncomplicated fever. Most patients who do experience symptoms experience sudden "break bone" joint pain, headaches, pain behind the eyes, extreme fatigue, rashes, and loss of appetite. For most patients, these symptoms will subside within a week or two of infection.
    • A small portion of patients experience hemorrhagic fever, with symptoms including minor nose bleeding, gum bleeding, heavy menstruation, and low platelets.
    • Few patients experience Dengue Shock Syndrome, which includes a sudden onset after a fever of 2-7 days long, frank bleeding, cool skin, faint blood pressure, and circulatory failure.
  3. Research where you are going. Look up all resources in preparation. In advance, search for any local outbreaks, common diseases in a country, or important risky conditions that may affect you on your mission trip. Use all resources available to you, including:
    • CDC Travelers’ Health Website
    • State Department provides information on emergency services, U.S. Embassies, diplomatic missions, and consular services that protect U.S. citizens.
    • Eurosurveillance is a weekly online scientific journal devoted to the epidemiology, surveillance, prevention and control of communicable diseases, with a focus on such topics that are of relevance to Europe.
    • The Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues.
    • The International Society of Travel Medicine provides a free Global Travel Clinic Search. It contains more than 80 countries, clinics offer pre-travel immunizations, counseling and medicines to help protect travelers while traveling internationally. Most clinics also provide care to travelers if needed upon their return.

Avoiding Mosquitoes

  1. Understand the mosquito's biting and breeding routine. This will help you avoid them.
    • Nighttime: use bed nets that cover you and the bed completely treated with a repellent like DEET or an insecticide like Permethrin.
    • Daytime: repeatedly cover all exposed skin and clothing often with repellent.
    • Clean up all breeding sources. Stagnant water based liquid should be treated or drained.
  2. Protect yourself. Protection methods are key to keeping yourself safe. Wear long sleeve shirts and pants to keep as much of your skin as possible covered. Use insect repellents like Picaridin or DEET, and apply them to your exposed skin as well as clothing, patio, and camping gear. Use bed nets saturated with DEET, and use screens on any doors or windows.
  3. Avoid returning home with dengue. If you feel sick go to your travel clinic and get a blood test.


  • Avoid returning home from your mission trip with dengue!
  • When you travel, you can carry dengue back home to a dengue free mosquito and start a new infection cycle, so it's important to be careful of Mosquitoes even once you return.
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