Fever – tropical medicine: “We can only advise mosquito repellent”

Lennart Pyritz: Central and South America and the Caribbean are currently experiencing the largest documented outbreak of dengue fever in the region, a viral infection transmitted by diurnal mosquitoes. More than 2.7 million cases have been reported since the beginning of the year, and 1,200 people have died. What this means for the local people and also for travelers, we are now talking about with Professor Tomas Jelinek, head of the Center for Travel and Tropical Medicine in Berlin. Good morning, Mr. Jelinek!

Tomas Jelinek: Good Morning!

Pomerania: How does such an infection with the dengue virus express itself?

Jelinek: First of all, there is a feeling of general grippal symptoms with a strong emphasis on pain. The British have also called this Breakbone fever, so bone breaker fever, because the pain can be so impressive. That is, in the classical course you have to do with it above all things. But there are also patients who do not notice anything. So they do it largely asymptomatically. Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there are patients who may be bleeding, a so-called hemorrhagic fever, and that can be life-threatening.

Pomerania: Are there any insights, explanations for why dengue fever has spread so much in South and Central America this year?

Jelinek: There is only speculation. Actually, we are dealing with four different viruses, Dengue 1, 2, 3, 4, and they are different. If a virus has been away for a long time and then comes back, then there are more cases, because people are not familiar with it in part, but that is not yet proven, and in the end you have to admit, we understand that Epidemiology not one hundred percent. So we do not know exactly why the rise is happening now.

Vaccine is “only very limited”

Pomerania: How is dengue fever treated when it comes to such an infection?

Jelinek: We can treat it symptomatically, that is to say, only the symptoms, the pain, above all else. That's the problem. One has no causal treatment. That is above all the problem with …

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