Dengue fever symptoms: UK holidaymakers issued warning over 'break-bone' disease in Spain as cases previously confirmed in Ibiza - what is it?

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UK holidaymakers have been warned of dengue fever, known as ‘break-bone’ disease, in Spain after cases have previously been confirmed in Ibiza - what is the disease and its symptoms?

UK holidaymakers have been issued a Spain travel warning over a disease known as ‘bone-break’ fever. In 2022, two cases of dengue fever were found on the popular Spanish island Ibiza, according to the Daily Mail.

The paper reports that German tourists who travelled to Ibiza became infected with the virus. The tourists arrived on the island in August 2022 and were known to be infected eight days after they returned.

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Another case that same year saw a separate set of German tourists getting infected and being diagnosed five days after they returned home. The family in the second case reported getting mosquito bites.

A study led by Lucía García-San-Miguel, from Spain's Ministry of Health, has issued a warning to travellers, recommending those who arrive in Spain from countries where dengue is prevalent to protect themselves from mosquito bites for at least two weeks after they arrive. Study authors also recommended more rapid and reliable lab testing for dengue in European countries where people travel to the virus' hotspots to prevent it from spreading.

UK holidaymakers have been warned of dengue fever, known as ‘break-bone’ disease, in Spain after cases have previously been confirmed in Ibiza. (Photo: Getty Images)UK holidaymakers have been warned of dengue fever, known as ‘break-bone’ disease, in Spain after cases have previously been confirmed in Ibiza. (Photo: Getty Images)
UK holidaymakers have been warned of dengue fever, known as ‘break-bone’ disease, in Spain after cases have previously been confirmed in Ibiza. (Photo: Getty Images)

According to the NHS, you can get dengue if you're bitten by an infected mosquito and they typically bite during daytime. The disease is known as ‘breakbone fever’ because of how painful it is. It is spread by mosquitoes and is more common in tropical areas, such as Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. However, the disease-ridden critters are becoming more common in Europe, with recorded cases in Italy, France and Spain.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) chiefs have called it the world's fastest-spreading tropical disease and say it is a "pandemic threat". Dengue infects up to 400 million people and kills 40,000. The virus is responsible for more disease and deaths than any other illness spread to people by insects, according to Dengue Virus Disease.The virus is not found in the UK and it cannot be spread from person to person. 

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Symptoms of dengue typically start four to 10 days following a mosquito bite and include:

  • a high temperature
  • a severe headache
  • pain behind your eyes
  • muscle and joint pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • swollen glands
  • a blotchy rash made up of flat or slightly raised spots – this can affect large areas of your body

Most people recover without needing treatment. Although some people may get a more severe type of dengue, which has the following symptoms:

  • severe tummy pain
  • repeatedly being sick
  • fast breathing
  • bleeding gums or nose
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • being unable to relax (restlessness)
  • blood in your vomit or poo

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