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What You Should Know about Dengue Fever

by Karen Rollins Jun 5, 2023

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A female mosquito

Dengue fever is a tropical virus which is spread by infected mosquitoes.

Every year there are an estimated 390 million dengue infections around the world, with about 96 million resulting in illness.

According to the World Health Organization, “the global incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades. About half of the world’s population is now at risk.”

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is a viral infection that is passed to humans via the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito.

The mosquito becomes a carrier after biting a person infected with dengue. Following a four to 10 day incubation period, the mosquito can transmit the virus for the rest of its life.

Dengue cannot be passed from person to person.

Where is dengue a risk?

Most dengue cases occur in tropical parts of the world. Some of the areas with the greatest risk of infection include:

*The Caribbean (except Cuba and the Cayman Islands).


*Central and South America (except Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina).

*The Indian subcontinent.


*Southeast Asia.

*Southern China.


*The Pacific Islands.

What are the symptoms of dengue fever?

Dengue symptoms usually present four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days. Some symptoms may be mild and are often mistaken for flu or another type of viral infection.

The most common symptoms include:

*Sudden, high fever.

*Severe headaches.


*Pain behind the eyes.


*Loss of appetite.

*Severe joint and muscle pain.

*A widespread red skin rash.

*Mild bleeding.

In severe cases, some people will develop dengue hemorrhagic fever. This is a complication from the dengue infection that’s characterised by a high fever, bleeding from the nose and gums, an enlarged liver and failure of the circulatory system.

People with weaker immune systems, as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection, are believed to be at high risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Dengue fever can also develop into a fatal condition called Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS). DSS leads to massive blood loss, shock and death.

How is dengue fever treated?

There is no specific medicine to treat a dengue infection, but early detection usually prevents the illness from developing.

If you think you may have been infected with dengue fever, you should rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you need pain relief you should avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as these could make any bleeding worse.

See your doctor as quickly as possible. If you start to feel worse, you should go to the hospital immediately.

How can I avoid getting dengue fever?

There is no vaccine for dengue fever so the best way to avoid it is to prevent bites by infected mosquitoes.

Make sure you wear mosquito repellent whenever possible, natural repellents such as citronella are particularly good for people with allergies.

Take measures to control the mosquito population around your home by cutting down vegetation and bush and removing stagnant water from containers.

You may also like: How to protect your home from mosquitoes.

Sources: World Health OrganizationWebMD, and NHS UK.