DOCTORS are failing to pick up warning signs for a severe form of dengue fever and in one in five cases are prescribing medicine that would make the patient’s condition worse, new research has found.
The Australian study of 208 patients hospitalised between January 2012 and May 2015 found doctors were struggling to recognise symptoms associated with severe dengue, which in extreme cases could be deadly.
In more than 20 per cent of cases patients were prescribed the common painkiller ibuprofen, exposing them to unnecessary risk of haemorrhage.
Queensland Health data available online shows there have been 129 cases of dengue diagnosed in the state so far this year and 447 cases confirmed last year.
Local outbreaks were identified in Cairns, Innisfail, Townsville, Masig (Yorke) Island, and Boigu Island during the first three months of the year, but the number of cases reported was dwarfed by those brought back from overseas.
Monash Health infectious diseases physician Alex Tai said far north Queensland doctors were generally more familiar with dengue that those in the rest of the country.
“We want to raise awareness that dengue is not just benign, or you get over it, there is potential to basically get really sick,” he said.
The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia today, found Australian travellers most often acquired dengue in Indonesia and Thailand.