Dengue Fever (Breakbone, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever)

What is dengue fever?

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.

Who gets dengue fever?

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.

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How is dengue fever spread?

Dengue is spread by the bite of a mosquito infected with a dengue viruses.

What are the symptoms of dengue fever?

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.

How soon after infection do symptoms occur?

Dengue fever may occur from 3 to 14 days after exposure to an infected mosquito, commonly within 5 to 7 days.

How is dengue fever diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made by demonstrating specific antibodies to the virus in blood or spinal fluid.

What is the treatment for dengue fever?

There is no specific treatment available. Intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy are often used for patients who experience shock during their illness.

How can dengue fever be prevented?

  • Control measures are limited to advising travelers to endemic areas to minimize exposure to mosquitoes.
  • Use of protective clothing, mosquito netting, and repellents are helpful in preventing mosquito bites.

Additional Information