As Europe continues to experience rising temperatures, the continent faces an increase in mosquito-borne illnesses, particularly dengue fever. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has reported a significant uptick in locally acquired and imported dengue cases. With popular holiday destinations like Spain, Italy, and France now home to dengue-carrying mosquitoes, travelers must take precautions to protect themselves from these pesky insects and the diseases they carry.

Dengue fever, often called “break-bone fever” due to the severe joint and muscle pain it can cause, is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, particularly the tiger mosquito. Climate change has extended the habitats of these mosquitoes, making them a common sight in many European countries. While dengue is traditionally associated with tropical regions, Europe is now grappling with its spread.

Practical Tips To Protect Against Mosquito Bites

Consider applying insect repellent while traveling in Europe to minimize the risk of mosquito bites and potential dengue infection. This substance is one of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito bites. Choose repellents containing DEET, IR3535, or Icaridin, as these are more effective than essential oil-based options. Apply the repellent to all exposed skin and reapply as directed, especially after swimming or sweating.

Also, covering up can significantly reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes. Opt for long sleeves, long pants, and socks, ideally in lighter colors, as mosquitoes are more attracted to dark clothing. Doing this is particularly important during peak mosquito activity times. For dengue-carrying mosquitoes, it can be during the day. Furthermore, keep in mind that mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. It’s crucial to eliminate any potential breeding grounds around your accommodation—empty containers that collect water, such as flower pots and buckets.

Even small amounts of water, like that in a bottle cap, can serve as a breeding site. When sleeping, use nets treated with insecticide to protect yourself. Also, ensure that windows and doors in your accommodation have screens to keep mosquitoes out. Sleep in air-conditioned rooms if possible, as mosquitoes are less active in cooler environments.

Recognizing Symptoms And Seeking Medical Attention

Understanding the symptoms of dengue fever can help in seeking timely medical attention. Symptoms typically appear four to ten days after being bitten and can include:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash

In severe cases, dengue can lead to hemorrhagic fever, which is potentially fatal. If you experience these symptoms during or after your trip, seek medical attention immediately. Most importantly, before embarking on your journey, check travel advisories and health warnings from reputable sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).