The number of dengue fever cases and deaths in Malaysia continue to rise as the health ministry puts the case count at over 38,000 and the death toll at 117. This represents an approximately 40 percent increase in cases as compared to the same period in 2014.
This has prompted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice for Americans traveling to the southeast Asian country.
Because there is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent dengue, travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
Health officials offer the following recommendations to prevent mosquito bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats
- Use an insect repellent as directed
- Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
- DEET (products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin; products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the United States])
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
- IR3535 (products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
- Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pretreated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
- Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.