A serious outbreak of dengue fever that began this summer in Guangdong Province in southern China, which has seen cases in the tens of thousands, has prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a notice today for travelers to the area.

 Guangdong province/Public domain image-Joowwww
Guangdong province/Public domain image-Joowwww

The latest data from the Guangdong Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission (computer translated) shows that as of October 26, the province’s 20 prefecture reported a total of 41,155 confirmed dengue fever cases. A large majority of the cases (34,352) have been reported from the capital city of Guangzhou, followed by 3368 cases reported in Foshan City.

In addition, six people have died as a result of their dengue infection.

Health officials in Guangdong Province are working to control the outbreak, which includes the use of the controversial mosquitofish.

The CDC advises travelers to Guangdong protect themselves against mosquito bites, which includes covering exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats; using an insect repellent like DEET as directed; staying and sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms and the use of a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

Dengue fever is a disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses (DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, or DENV 4). The viruses aretransmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.

The principal symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes,joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mildbleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising). Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year. However, new research from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust, using cartographic approaches, estimate there to be 390 million dengue infections per year worldwide.

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