Dengue fever, a potentially severe viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes, has seen a significant upsurge in the last few years 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 requests for dengue-related information and assistance in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Organizations are advised to be proactive in safeguarding their workforce from dengue.
While dengue is increasing globally, India is of particular concern, where the spread of dengue has increased by 1312% since 1996. In 2022 alone, over 233, 251 cases were reported from 35 states. The neighbouring country of Bangladesh is also witnessing a surge in dengue cases linked to a longer transmission season from prolonged periods of rain and flooding.
Dr Vikram Vora, Medical Director, Indian Subcontinent at International SOS said, “Widespread awareness of the disease and its prevention are critical in minimising the impact of dengue on individuals and communities. Although a majority of those infected are likely to have mild symptoms, some people can hospitalisation and fatalities are not uncommon. The risk of severe dengue is higher in people who have had past dengue infections. Dengue is primarily prevented by avoiding mosquito bites. Although a vaccine against dengue is available in some countries, it is not yet approved for use in India. 2 vaccines are currently undergoing clinical trials but for now, prevention remains the best strategy against dengue.
Organisations are recommended to conduct dengue risk and impact 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.