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People in New Zealand with dengue fever will have caught it overseas, as the Aedes mosquitoes that spreads the virus are not found in this country. Dengue outbreaks are common in tropical and sub-tropical countries in the Pacific, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and south and Central America, where the Aedes mosquitoes live. 

People catch dengue fever by being bitten by an infected mosquito while in one of these countries, and they sometimes are ill when they return to New Zealand. You cannot catch dengue from another person and you cannot infect others if you are ill. 

Effective vaccines to prevent dengue fever are currently not available. When travelling to countries where there are Aedes mosquitoes, the best way to avoid dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Use insect repellent (you can apply this over sunscreen), wear long sleeves, pants and socks, and stay in places where there are mosquito bed-nets, mosquito screens on windows and doors, or places with air-conditioning where the doors and windows are closed.

The Aedes mosquito breeds most effectively in urban and semi-urban areas overseas, and in many popular holiday destinations.

Dengue symptoms can last from two to seven days and may include: 

  • a sudden, highfever 
  • an intense headache (especially behind the eyes) 
  • muscle and joint pain 
  • feeling very tired 
  • nausea/vomiting (feeling or being sick) 
  • a skin rash. 

If symptoms keep worsening, please contact your doctor or nearest emergency centre for urgent assessment.

A small number of people may get severe dengue, with their health rapidly getting worse despite a decrease in the fever.

There is no specific medicine to treat dengue fever.

To help take care of yourself, you can:

  • rest
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • take paracetamol rather than aspirin for the fever, headache and muscle pains, as aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding.

Talk to your doctor about what medicines you are taking before taking additional medicine.

Symptoms of dengue fever will typically clear up after 2-7 days. Two to five days after dengue symptoms have begun, a small number of people may get severe dengue, with their health rapidly getting worse despite a decrease in the fever. If this happens, it is very serious and you will need to go to hospital for urgent treatment.

Dengue fever is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. Once we are notified about a case of dengue fever, we can investigate which country it came from and provide advice to prevent it occurring in the future.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service also has a role in ensuring exotic mosquitoes do not become established in New Zealand.

  

Information in other languages

  • Fact sheet - Dengue fever PDF (ARPHS)

Cook Island Maori  Fijian  Samoan  Tongan

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Last updated 19.11.2020

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