Dengue Fever

(BREAKBONE FEVER)

What are the symptoms of Dengue Fever?

Dengue symptoms develop suddenly within 3–14 days after someone is bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito. Some people who are bitten by Dengue-infected mosquitoes do not have any symptoms. Classic Dengue symptoms include the following:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Severe muscle, joint, and lower back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Generalized weakness
  • A rash spreading to the arms, legs, and face may occur 3–4 days after onset

Although Dengue Fever is normally self-limiting and lasts for approximately a week, recovery can take several weeks. Most people with Dengue do not need hospitalization, but those with persistent fever should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How can I get Dengue Fever?

Dengue is mainly spread by the bite of Aedes mosquitoes. It is the most common viral illness spread to humans by mosquitoes. There are an estimated 100 million cases each year.

Where can I get Dengue Fever?

The areas of highest risk for acquiring Dengue Fever are Southeast Asia and Latin America. However, it is endemic in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Islands. More cases occur during warm, humid weather. Cases were also reported in Key West Florida during 2011 and in Portugal during 2012.

Dengue is prevalent in urban areas, including modern downtown business areas. The Aedes mosquito typically lives indoors and is often found in dark, cool places such as closets, bathrooms, and under beds. Mosquito breeding sites often include standing water found in storage containers and flowerpot trays.

Your risk of being bitten is highest during the early morning until approximately two hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon before sunset.

How can I prevent Dengue Fever?

There are currently no vaccines or drugs to prevent Dengue infection. You can reduce your risk by using insecticides and selecting accommodation with air conditioning or well-screened windows. You should also use repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin. Take other preventive measures such as limiting daytime activities, wearing protective clothing such as long sleeved shirts. If you are sleeping outdoors, use a permethrin-treated bed net. Check here for more information on preventing insect bites.

What is the treatment for Dengue Fever?

There is no specific treatment or medication for Dengue infections. Everyone travelling through or living in endemic areas is at risk.

Most people recover after a few days. If necessary, acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain. Aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen should be avoided as these drugs thin the blood and can increase the chance of hemorrhage.

In about 1 percent of cases, more severe forms of Dengue Fever—Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and Dengue shock syndrome (DSS)—may occur. People who have already been infected with a different strain of Dengue virus are at greater risk of progressing to DHF or DSS. Symptoms include those of classic Dengue, along with severe abdominal pain, bleeding under the skin, shock, and sometimes death. Travellers who have previously had classic Dengue Fever should be aware of the increased possibility of acquiring these severe forms and seek medical attention as soon as symptoms appear. Proper medical care drastically reduces the death rate from DHF.

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