Can You Get Dengue Fever in Bangkok, Thailand? What to Do if You Do

dengue fever mosquito

One of the things you may be worried about when you come to Thailand is if you can catch dengue fever in Bangkok. Dengue fever is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes and tens of thousands of cases usually spring up nationwide every year.

In 2013, however, Thailand saw highest number of cases of dengue fever in 20 years, and some of those cases were in Bangkok. So yes, it is possible to catch dengue fever in Bangkok.

That being said, most cases of dengue fever in Thailand tend to surface in rural areas of the country — areas with a higher population of mosquitoes and where much of the population lives in non-airconditioned homes and sleeps with open windows.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t get dengue fever in Bangkok as people every year definitely do.

Dengue fever in Bangkok – While it is not as common to hear of people getting dengue fever in Bangkok, due to mosquitoes being far lower in numbers than out in rural areas, it does happen. In 2018 alone, there were 5,899  cases of dengue fever reported in Bangkok from January to September. Out of those cases, five people died.

How many of those were actually contracted in the city itself is difficult to tell, but some obviously were.

Several years ago, I was working at an international company in Bangkok when one of the partners came down with dengue fever. He hadn’t been out of the city for at least six months, but contracted dengue fever nonetheless.

That particular year, several thousand cases were reported in Bangkok alone, with a public health announcement being made to warn people to take precautions against mosquito bites.

2013 was worse year for dengue fever in Thailand in 20 years – In June, 2013, Pornthep Siriwanarangsun, director of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control said he expected 150,000 to 200,000 cases of dengue fever in Thailand that year, as the year was expected to be a particularly bad one.

Numbers by mid-October, 2013 showed more than 135,000 people had dengue fever-like symptoms, so his estimate wasn’t far off.

In normal years, there will also be people who do contract dengue fever in Bangkok, but Thai health officials say, even if you spend a lot of your time outside, your chances of contracting it are still quite low particularly if you take precautions against mosquito bites.

You can lower your chances even more, however, by not eating outside during evening hours and not sitting anywhere near standing water.

Related: How to tell if you have dengue fever in Thailand, and what to do about it

If you do think you have contracted dengue fever in Bangkok, though, what are the symptoms and what should you do?

Symptoms for dengue fever – Symptoms for dengue fever include a rash that starts on your upper torso and spreads to the rest of your body. You may also have pain behind your eyes, a headache, flu-like symptoms, a high fever, muscle aches and vomiting or diarrhea.

You can read all about typical symptoms for dengue fever on the website for Bumrungrad Hospital, Thailand’s number one private hospital.

What should you do if you think you have contracted dengue fever in Bangkok? – There isn’t a treatment for dengue fever other than to take something like Tylenol for any pain you are experiencing and to help to bring the fever down.

That is why, for many people who do contract dengue fever, it means nothing more than making sure they get lots of rest and stay completely hydrated, as dehydration is one of the main causes of major problems in dengue fever sufferers.

If your symptoms worsen, however, a trip to the hospital will be in order, where you will probably be admitted and put on an intravenous drip. In extreme cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary as internal bleeding can occur.

Less than one percent of dengue fever cases are fatal, however, so the disease will likely give you more of a scare and make you feel ill for a couple of weeks rather than be life-threatening.