Dengue: Advice for travellers
Level 1 - Practise health precautions (more details)
Original publication date: September 8, 2022
Updated: November 27, 2023
Many travel destinations are reporting increasing numbers of dengue cases. Dengue is a risk in tropical and sub-tropical climates worldwide, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas. Depending on your destination, the risk of dengue can change seasonally (i.e. higher in rainy seasons), and vary from year to year.
The level of risk can also vary between regions within a country and can depend on the elevation in the region. Pay close attention to the dengue situation in your destination before and during travel, including at the local level.
Dengue is a disease spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Some people infected with dengue may not show symptoms. If symptoms develop, they usually begin 4 to 7 days after the mosquito bite and typically last 2 to 7 days.
Infection with dengue can cause flu-like symptoms, including:
- sudden high-grade fever
- severe headache
- pain behind the eyes
- muscle and joint pain
- nausea and vomiting
Most people with dengue recover after a few days. In a small percentage of people infected, the disease may progress to severe dengue, which can lead to internal bleeding and organ failure. With proper medical care, fewer than 1% of people with dengue die.
Warning signs of progression to severe dengue include:
- persistent vomiting
- blood in vomit or stool
- severe abdominal pain
- feeling tired or restless
- difficulty breathing
- bruising and mild bleeding (such as from the mouth or nose)
There is no vaccine or medication available in Canada to prevent dengue.
There is no specific treatment for dengue. Medical care aims to control the symptoms and help with recovery.
Before your trip
Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you travel.
During your trip
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times. The mosquitoes that spread dengue bite during the day and night. They are generally not found at altitudes above 2,000 metres. Be sure to:
- Use an approved insect repellent and apply it properly.
- Limit outdoor activities during peak biting periods, early in the morning and in the evening before dusk.
- Cover up by wearing light-coloured, loose clothing, long pants and tucked-in long-sleeved shirts with closed-toe shoes or boots and a hat.
- Sleep in indoor areas that are completely enclosed or well-screened.
- Use insecticide-treated mosquito netting (bed net) when sleeping outdoors or staying in a building that is not completely enclosed and to cover playpens, cribs or strollers.
- Learn more about mosquito bite prevention for travellers.
After your trip
Monitor your health
- If you develop symptoms similar to dengue when you are travelling or after you return, see a health care provider. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.
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