Dengue fever, a potentially severe viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes, has experienced a significant upsurge in recent periods and expanded its geographic presence. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around half of the global population is at risk of dengue and warns of the potential for a record level of cases worldwide1. International SOS, the world's leading health and security services company, has seen an almost 15% increase in dengue-related requests for information and assistance in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Organisations are advised to be proactive in safeguarding their workforce from dengue.
While dengue is increasing globally, the Americas is of particular concern, where almost three million people have been infected in the first seven months of this year. Brazil and Peru are experiencing one of the largest dengue outbreaks in their history.2 Bangladesh is also witnessing a surge in dengue cases linked to a longer transmission season from prolonged periods of rain and flooding. Moreover, as climate change continues to create hotter temperatures in Europe, dengue is spreading to new areas within the region.3
Dr Irene Lai, Group Medical Director at International SOS said,
Prevention and awareness are key in minimising the impact of dengue on individuals. Although many people will have no or only mild symptoms, some people can be severely ill requiring hospitalisation and fatalities do occur. The risk of severe dengue is higher in people who have had past dengue infections. Dengue is primarily prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Vaccines against dengue are available and may be recommended particularly for people who have had dengue in the past if they have to live in an area with high dengue activity.
For organisations, best practice is to undertake risk assessments of their locations of operation as well as the locations their employees travel to. Mitigation measures include education and awareness campaigns, keeping premises free of potential mosquito-breeding areas, providing access to mosquito-bite prevention supplies and ensuring that their travelling workforce undergo pre-deployment health assessments.
International SOS provides the top five guidelines for organisations to protect their employees from dengue fever:
- Pre-Travel Planning: Prior to travel, employees should receive comprehensive pre-travel health advice, including information about dengue fever risks, preventive measures and how to access essential healthcare at their destination.
- Mosquito Bite Prevention: Encourage employees to use insect repellent, wear protective clothing and stay in “mosquito-proof” accommodation with air conditioning and insect screens.
- Environmental Control: Organisations operating in high-risk areas should implement mosquito control measures, such as eliminating breeding sites and conducting regular inspections of work sites.
- Employee Education: Provide training and resources to increase employee awareness about dengue fever, its symptoms and preventive strategies.
- Provide Medical Support: Ensure employees have access to timely medical attention and resources to manage dengue fever effectively and prevent its progression to severe forms.
1. United Nations | Spike in dengue cases due to global warming, warns WHO
2. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control | Dengue worldwide overview
3. World Health Organization | Dengue and severe dengue fact sheet
About the International SOS Group of CompaniesThe International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
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