Dengue (den-GEE) is spread when a mosquito bites an infected person and then carries the virus to a noninfected person, passing it on through a bite. After about four to seven days, the person with the virus begins experiencing symptoms that can include headache, backache, fever, nausea, and vomiting. A person with dengue may also develop a rash and complain of joint or eye pain. Younger children tend to have a milder version of the infection than older children and adults.
The viruses that cause the milder dengue infection can produce a more severe form of the disease, called dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). People with DHF have a fever that lasts two to seven days and obvious bleeding issues, such as easy bruising, bleeding from the nose or gums, and sometimes internal bleeding. This occurs mostly after second or third infections with dengue strains.
Although there is no treatment for dengue, the illness usually clears up on its own. If any bleeding occurs, be sure to avoid any medications that contain aspirin or ibuprofen to manage dengue-associated fever.
Any of four dengue virus strains (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4) transmitted by infected mosquitoes cause dengue. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the most common carrier of dengue viruses.
Who's at Risk?
An estimated 100 million cases of dengue occur around the world every year. Anyone visiting a high-risk country could possibly be exposed to a dengue virus. In general, you're more likely to contract dengue in the South Pacific, Asia, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Africa. Dengue-carrying mosquitoes are also more likely to gather in urban areas. But even if you travel to a high-risk area, your chances of being infected with a dengue virus are slight.
Your best bet to avoid getting dengue is to protect yourself against the mosquitoes that carry the virus. Follow these tips if you're going to be in a high-risk area:
- Cover as much of your body as possible while you're outdoors because the Aedes mosquito feeds day and night.
- Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and apply it to your body and your clothes.
- Stay in a hotel that has air conditioning or at least screened doors and windows.
A much more common infection carried by mosquitoes is malaria. Learn about malaria in the next section, which is carried by female mosquitoes, and even more dangerous than dengue.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.