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Dengue and travellers: implications for doctors in Australia

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Awareness of the problem is the first step towards control

The study by Tai and colleagues reported in this issue of the MJA highlights the risk of dengue in Australia posed by the endemic Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus vectors, together with increasing travel by Australians to dengue-endemic destinations.1 From 1991 to 2012, most cases of notified dengue in Australia were related to overseas travel, with respective increases in 2010 and 2011 of 298% and 155% above the 5-year mean notification rate; the risk of dengue in travellers returning from Indonesia between 2000 and 2011 was 8.3 times that for travellers returning from all other destinations.2 The global trade in used tyres (believed to facilitate the distribution of eggs and immature forms of mosquito vectors), rapid urbanisation in Asia and Latin America, more frequent international travel, and ineffective vector control have each contributed to the increasing global prevalence of dengue.3 It is pertinent to consider the threat of dengue in Australia with respect to travel and climatic factors.

During 1993–2005, a decrease in the average Southern Oscillation Index (that is, warmer conditions) over the preceding 3–12 months was significantly associated with increasing monthly numbers of dengue cases in Queensland.4