Dengue advice for health practitioners
Dengue fever is a notifiable condition, even on clinical suspicion, under the Public Health Act 2005.
Immediate reporting of a dengue case on clinical suspicion is essential in the public health management of dengue fever to prevent the spread of further cases.
For more detailed information on the public health management of dengue fever please refer to the Dengue Fever Communicable Disease Control Guidelines.
Steps to take when seeing a suspected case of dengue fever
Step 1: Notify your nearest Public Health Unit immediately upon clinical suspicion.
This is a requirement under the Public Health Act 2005. In northern Queensland and other areas where the dengue mosquito is found, early notification enables Public Health Units to control mosquitoes promptly to prevent transmission of the virus to other people.
Step 2: Take a comprehensive travel history and determine whether the case was acquired overseas or locally.
- Has the patient travelled overseas to a dengue affected country within 2 weeks of onset of symptoms?
- Has the patient travelled to a dengue affected area in North Queensland within 2 weeks of onset?
- Or no travel history?
Step 3: Note the date of onset of symptoms to identify the correct diagnostic test, as suitable laboratory tests depend on when the blood sample is collected during the illness.
- Write the date of onset of symptoms on the pathology request to enable the laboratory to run confirmatory tests.
- Note recent overseas travel on the pathology request.
- Other useful tests are full blood count. Cases often have leukopenia and/or thrombocytopenia.
The below table shows which test to order at which stage of illness:
Days after onset of symptoms
From day 5 onwards
From day 8 onwards
Step 4: Provide personal protection advice.
- The patient should stay in screened accommodation and have someone stay home to look after them.
- The patient should use personal insect repellent particularly during daylight hours to avoid mosquito bites.
- All household members should use personal insect repellent during daylight hours.
- Advise family members or associates of the case who develop a fever to present immediately for diagnosis.
A patient with dengue can transmit the virus to dengue mosquitoes from approximately a day before they develop a fever, until the fever abates.
Watch these short videos for GPs on managing dengue fever
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Read more about dengue and other mosquito borne disease resources, research and surveillance.