Dengue fever, an acute mosquito-borne febrile disease, is caused by the dengue viruses. The disease is mainly tropical in origin but occasionally residents or visitors from other countries may arrive in this country with dengue fever. Although cases originating in the United States are virtually unknown, outbreaks have recently been reported in parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Dengue fever may occur in people of all ages exposed to infected mosquitoes. The disease primarily occurs in tropical Asia and the Caribbean, usually during the rainy seasons in areas with high numbers of infected mosquitoes.
Dengue is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with a dengue viruses.
Dengue fever is characterized by high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and rash. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is first characterized by a fever that lasts from 5 to 7 days with symptoms that can occur with many other illnesses (e.g., nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and headache). This stage is followed by hemorrhagic manifestations, tendency to bruise easily or other types of skin hemorrhages, bleeding nose or gums, and possibly internal bleeding. Circulatory failure and shock may occur, which if untreated, can result in death.
Dengue fever may occur from 3 to 14 days after exposure to an infected mosquito, commonly within 5 to 7 days.
The diagnosis is made by demonstrating specific antibodies to the virus in blood or spinal fluid.
There is no specific treatment available. Intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy are often used for patients who experience shock during their illness.