There is currently an outbreak of dengue fever at the Coast. It was first noted in Mombasa, spread to Kilifi and is probably now affecting the whole coast.
Dengue is spread by a day-biting mosquito, and caused by a virus. There is no specific treatment, so prevention of bites is key.
The illness itself has an incubation period of 3 – 8 days; it starts suddenly with headache, fever, chills, pains behind the eyes and pains in the low back and limbs. It is quite similar to malaria, but malaria tests will be negative.
The specific test for dengue is not easily available in Kenya, and will not be positive until at least 5-6 days after the illness begins.
Treatment is rest, plenty to drink and regular paracetamol for the pain and fever. Dengue gets better by itself, but sufferers will feel very unwell for at least 10 days, and will need to rest properly even when recovering. Most people will need two weeks off work.
Remember, avoid bites by using plenty of repellent and spraying rooms during the day as well as at night.
Contact the clinic if you think you may have dengue; at weekends/after hours go to casualty or, for UKB, call the FCO Healthline for advice.
FCO Regional Medical Officer, Nairobi