Dengue fever

Dengue fever

Dengue fever

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Definition and explanation of Dengue fever:

Dengue (pronounced DEN-gee) fever is a viral disease. It is transmitted by mosquitoes mainly in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The disease is most common in:

  • South Pacific
  • South Central Asia
  • Caribbean
  • Central and South America
  • Africa

Dengue fever happens most often in urban areas. But it may be found in rural areas. The mosquitoes that carry the virus usually pass it on during and shortly after the rainy season. The mosquitoes are most active during the day. They are found near human dwellings, often indoors. About half of the world’s population is now at risk for this disease.

Causes of Dengue fever:

Dengue fever is caused by a virus. A certain type of mosquito (Aedes) passes the virus to people through its bites.

Sign and symptoms of Dengue fever:

Dengue fever causes a severe flu-like illness. It may be look like other diseases such as the flu or malaria. The illness usually lasts 3 to 7 days. Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden high fever
  • Severe headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash that appears 3 to 4 days after the fever starts

A very small portion of people with dengue fever get a severe case. It’s called dengue hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms show up as the fever begins to ease. These may include vomiting that does not go away, rapid breathing, blood in vomit, and bleeding gums.

Diagnosis of Dengue fever:

A special blood test can diagnose dengue fever. It can find the virus or antibodies made in response to the virus. See your healthcare provider if you get sick within a month of returning from travel in a tropical area. Your provider will ask you for your complete travel history. He or she can then figure out if your symptoms may be a dengue infection.

Treatment for Dengue fever:

Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:


  • How old you are?
  • Your overall health and past health?
  • How sick you are?
  • How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies?
  • How long the condition is expected to last?
  • Your opinion or preference?

Dengue fever is generally treated with supportive care such as pain relievers, bed rest and fluids. You may take acetaminophen to lower the fever. But you should not take aspirin, ibuprofen, or any NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). In severe cases, you may need medical care right away from healthcare providers familiar with the disease. This can greatly cut the risk of death.

Complications of Dengue fever:

Severe dengue fever can be fatal if not treated right away. Other effects of severe dengue are:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Organ damage

Prevention of Dengue fever:

There is no widely used or FDA-approved vaccine for dengue fever. Travelers should avoid mosquito bites by:

  • Using DEET based insect repellents on the skin and clothing
  • Using permethrin sprayed or soaked clothing as the Aedes mosquitoes bite during the daytime hours
  • Staying in well-screened or air conditioned areas

When to call healthcare provider in case of Dengue fever:

Call your healthcare provider if you have fever within 3 weeks of travelling to an area affected by the disease. Also call your healthcare provider right away if your symptoms get worse or you have new ones.

Key points about Dengue fever:

  • Dengue fever is caused by a virus passed on by the bite of a daytime biting mosquito.
  • Dengue fever occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
  • The disease causes a severe flu-like illness. It is generally treated with bed rest and fluids.
  • When traveling to areas that have dengue fever, avoid mosquito bites. Use insect repellents on skin and clothing.

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