Dengue fever in Virgin Islands

Oct 2nd, 2007, 07:17 AM
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Dengue fever in Virgin Islands

I've been concerned about all the recent reports (CDC etc) about the large upswing of Dengue fever in Puerto Rica and the BVI's. Haven't seen reports about same in USVI's, but wondering how things could be so different there. In short, had planned a trip to BVI's and am now second-thinking. Wondering how other travelers are handling this.
poss is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 10:05 AM
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Despite the increasing instances of Dengue fever in the Caribbean, I wouldn't even for a moment not take a trip there unless I was immunocompromised already (recent chemotheraphy, some long-term illness, etc). Use regular precautions against mosquitoes and you should be fine.

While the CDC has issued notices about Dengue on Puerto Rico, Martinique, and Guadeloupe by name (and I've read about some cases in the DR), there is no destination-specific warning about travel to any of the Virgin Islands, just the general tropical-destinations notice about the ongoing prevalence of Dengue.

Remember that there are many mosquito-borne illnesses prevalent in the U.S. that are just as devastating as Dengue. West Nile Virus, for example, has been widely reported, but I wouldn't hesitate to go to Staten Island just because there have been cases there. And West Nile is present across much of the U.S.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2007, 02:04 PM
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There was an outbreak of Dengue on Maui last time I was there.

Just use lots of insect repellant and don't worry about it.

A friend at work contracted it this summer while in the Philipines. He is a fairly recent cancer patient, it really took a toll on him. He's finally started to look and act like himself.
JeanH is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 04:41 AM
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Thanks for responses.
Doug: Your info is different frm what I've been seeing. According to the WoodshedEnvironment's website, the BVI's are on "high alert" for Dengue fever. And you're right, of course, about mosquito-borne (and other) illnesses being contractable in the U.S. Indeed, if there were notice of a particularly intense outbreak of West Nile (or Lyme or whatever) in a particular region of the U.S. at a particular time, I would make every effort to avoid the area until the more-or-less all-clear signal was given. If I absolutely had to visit such area, I'd take all due precautions, but if I could visit elsewhere without much inconvenience, I'd opt to do that. That's the position I find myself in now: just trying to decide the prudent course.
Thanks again for in-put.
poss is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 05:16 AM
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If you read that article you reference, it also says that there has not been a report of Dengue in the BVI for 2 years. "High alert" does not equal an epidemic.

The point I always try to make when weighing travel decisions is that while you can't predict whether or not you'll have a problem (crime, accident, illness) when traveling to a particular place, you do have the power to lessen the chance that you will be a victim.

Simply by using insect repellant and weather long-sleeve clothing at dusk, you can greatly reduce your chances of being bitten by mosquitoes. And trust me, in the Caribbean there are a wide range of mosquito-borne illnesses in addition to Dengue fever; don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you are going to a nice beach resort. By paying attention to your surroundings and not being too impaired, you can greatly reduce the chances of an accident or crime.

It's also true that most resorts try mightily to lessen the chance that one of their guests will be bitten. Almost all of them spray for mosquitoes.

When we weigh these decisions, we have to use common sense and weigh risks carefully, especially if you have young children or are elderly or have health problems. I won't deny that. But I still see people worrying about the malaria outbreak that affected Punta Cana almost 2 years ago after a hurricane.

But even when Dengue seems to be a force in Puerto Rico, I have a friend who is there weekly on business, and he's never had a problem yet. Another friend can't take malaria medication and went to Tanzania for 3 weeks without any incident. You can call these two people lucky, but even with 6,000 cases of Dengue in Puerto Rico, there are over 4 million people in PR, not counting tourists. The chance you will be bitten by a Dengue-carrying mosquito is still relatively slim, especially if you are only in a place for a week. But anyone traveling in the Caribbean needs to be aware of the possibility. Because of the proximity of the islands, it's not just people going to Puerto Rico, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and certain parts of the DR who are at risk.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2007, 05:43 AM
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Dengue fever is always lurking around warm places. The situation may get worse in some locations from time to time. A large upswing could also mean two dozen as opposed to one dozen cases among thousands and thousands of people. It could also mean people have been less cautious. The mosquitos breed in standing water. In the USVI last few years there has been public reminders to minimize this by eliminating as much standing water as possible. Also, I also read somewhere that Dengue fever is most likely carried by the "Asian Tiger" mosquitos which appear to be larger and has stripes on its thorax. Anyways, it hasn't decreased the numbers of visitors. As another poster said, just use bug spray liberally during times of high activity and avoid shady, damp places.
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