The rise of dengue fever in Bali: What tourists should know

By: Sophia Lin

Raffles Hotel Arcade and Star Vista
Posted on: 18 Jun 2024

Reports from the Ministry of Health in Indonesia indicate a surge in dengue cases in Indonesia in the first quarter of 2024. This has led Indonesia’s Bali regional government to urge foreign tourists to consider dengue vaccines before they travel to the country. While vaccines are not yet mandatory, they are still encouraged, particularly for visits to endemic regions.

If you’re planning a trip to Bali, it’s important to understand the risks of dengue fever and take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is a viral mosquito-borne infection transmitted through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. These types of mosquitoes are typically most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Dengue fever can vary in severity, from mild to severe, and can pose life-threatening risks.

Dengue symptoms

Recognising dengue symptoms is important. Common symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rash appearing 2-5 days following fever onset
  • Mild bleeding (such as nosebleeds, gum bleeding, or easy bruising)

What factors have contributed to the increase in dengue fever cases?

Dengue typically occurs anywhere that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes live. The World Mosquito Programme identifies parts of Southeast Asia, the Americas, and the Western Pacific as being vulnerable. Indonesia is just one of the many countries affected .

The spread of these mosquitoes and, consequently, their disease is influenced by several factors, including:

  • Climate change and El Niño phenomenon: The consequences of the El Niño phenomenon in 2023, especially in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, like Bali, have led to increasing temperatures, high rainfall, and humidity. These conditions create optimal breeding grounds for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, facilitating the spread of dengue fever.
  • Urbanisation and population growth: Rapid urbanisation and population growth in many tropical and subtropical regions have led to densely populated living conditions with insufficient sanitation. Such environments are conducive to mosquito breeding, increasing the risk of dengue transmission.
  • Lack of awareness and preventive measures: In many affected areas, there is a lack of awareness regarding dengue prevention and control measures. Without proper education and community involvement, efforts to eliminate mosquito breeding sites and protect individuals from mosquito bites are less effective.

How to mitigate your risk of dengue fever for travellers in dengue-prone areas

When travelling to dengue-prone areas, it’s recommended to protect yourself from mosquito bites to mitigate the risk of contracting dengue fever.

  • Wear protective clothing: Opt for long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes to minimise skin exposure to mosquito bites.
  • Avoid peak mosquito activity times: The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Therefore, try to stay indoors during these peak times or take extra precautions if outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water: Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. As such, ensure that there are no open containers or areas of stagnant water around your living area. Additionally, regularly empty and clean containers like flower pots, buckets, and pet water dishes.
  • Use mosquito nets and screens: Sleep under a mosquito net
  • Be aware of local health adviceStay updated with local health advisories and guidelines on dengue fever. Local health authorities often provide information on current outbreak areas and recommended precautions.

How can travel medicine help protect you from dengue-prone areas?

Travel medicine plays a key role in preparing travellers and ensuring they are well-protected during their journeys.

When travelling to dengue-prone areas, please consult with a travel medicine clinic before you leave. It is recommended this should take place 6 weeks before you go on holiday to ensure vaccinations are up to date. Clinics like Osler Health can provide personalised advice on preventive measures, including vaccinations and medications.

Trusted travel medicine clinics offer guidance on over-the-counter medications and other interventions to manage symptoms if you do get sick. By utilising the services of a travel medicine clinic, you can be better prepared for your trip, mitigate your risk of dengue fever, and enjoy a safer and healthier travel experience.

For more health tips for travellers, gain insight into traveller’s diarrhoea and travel vaccinations to prepare before your next journey.

Raffles Hotel Arcade Star Vista