Bali tourists urged to follow simple measures after tropical disease cases ‘double’

Aussies are on alert as dengue fever outbreaks continue to emerge in several holiday hotspots like Bali and Thailand, with one insurance company claiming the number of cases claimed this year has “at least doubled.”

A month after authorities urged travelers to “cover up” to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, 1Cover Travel Insurance revealed on Tuesday it has seen a “sharp increase” in tourists catching the illness abroad. Not only is the virus causing people to fall extremely ill, in some instances, claim costs can be dreamed into the tens of thousands.

“Contracting dengue fever overseas can have serious implications to both your health and finances,” spokesperson Natalie Smith said. “Even in moderate cases, the average cost to treat and assist travelers with dengue fever is about $7,000.”

Recently, the company helped a couple, aged in their 20s, with a $20,000 bill after they both fell sick with dengue fever, Natalie said.

“We also had a $52,000 claim involving model Emily Gurr, who had contracted a severe case of dengue fever during her travels throughout Asia,” she added. “Emily was in hospital for 10 days and had to be air-evacuated back home to Australia for further treatment.”

Emily told 1Cover she felt like she’d been “hit by a bus” after waking up in Bali after a night out with friends, but initially thought it was a hangover.

“I didn’t know what it was but by the night time it was excruciating. “I couldn’t move, I thought I was dying,” she said. “My recollection of it all is so vague as I was in so much pain.” It’s believed she contracted dengue fever after being bitten by a mosquito in Vietnam a week earlier.

Sydney woman Marley spent eight days in a Bali hospital after contracting dengue fever at the end of last month. Source: Supplied

Earlier this month, Yahoo News spoke with Marley, from Sydney, who spent eight days in a Bali hospital after contracting the virus while traveling alone. “It was very scary. I have never been in an ambulance or anything before, I haven’t really had any health problems when I’ve been overseas,” she said.

Dengue fever precautions

The best method of prevention is to protect yourself against mosquito bites. According to 1Cover Travel Insurance, these measures include:

  • Insect repellent: Insect repellents containing DEET tend to be more effective than herbal remedies. As aerosols are not permitted on flights, pack a roll-on in your suitcase for convenience.

  • Covering up: Wear light colored, long flowing pants and long-sleeved shirts to minimize skin exposure. Use mosquito nets when sleeping.

  • Avoid peak mosquito periods: Mosquitoes carrying dengue fever are usually more active after sunrise and before sunset. Take extra precautions during these times.

  • Remove stagnant water sources: Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water sources. Remove any vases or plants with water trays where possible.

Aussie tourists traveling to dengue fever hotspots during the wet season are being urged to cover up and wear insect repellent. Source: EPA/AAP

There have been over 62,000 cases of dengue fever reported in Indonesia so far in 2024. The WA Health Department has issued a warning to travelers heading overseas after 138 of the state’s cases recorded this year were acquired in the country.

While most people experience mild or no symptoms, one in 20 develops severe dengue which can result in shock, internal bleeding and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The biggest clinical risk is someone who catches dengue for a second time with the risk of a bleeding syndrome that needs hospital attention and can — in a small percentage of cases — be fatal,” Infectious Diseases Professor Jill Carr said on Tuesday.

There has been over 62,000 cases of dengue fever reported in Indonesia so far in 2024. Source: EPA via AAP

“There are no antiviral treatments for this, but there is a vaccine. The vaccine cannot be given to everyone and is only for adults and those who have had a dengue infection before, and the vaccine comes at the cost to the individual.

“For many years we have been seeing rises and outbreaks of dengue cases, and Australian travelers should guard themselves against dengue by protecting themselves from mosquito bites using clothing covering the arms and legs, and mosquito repellent.”

Anyone who develops a fever up to seven days after returning from a dengue endemic area, should consult their doctor.

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