DENGUE FEVER – Quick Facts (adapted from the CDC)
- What is dengue?
A. Dengue (pronounced den’ gee) is a disease caused by one of four dengue viruses (DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, or DENV 4) which are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is estimated that there are over 100 million cases of dengue worldwide each year.
Q.What is dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)?
A.DHF is a more severe form of dengue infection. It can be fatal if unrecognized and not properly treated in a timely manner. DHF is caused by infection with the same viruses that cause dengue fever. With good medical management, mortality due to DHF can be less than 1%.
Q.How are dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) spread?
A. Dengue is transmitted to people by the bite of an Aedes mosquito that is infected with a dengue virus. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person.
Q.What are the symptoms of the disease?
A. The principal symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising). Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is characterized by a fever that lasts from 2 to 7 days, with general signs and symptoms consistent with dengue fever. When the fever declines, symptoms including persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing, may develop. This marks the beginning of a 24- to 48-hour period when the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) become excessively permeable (“leaky”), allowing the fluid to escape from the blood vessels. This may lead to failure of the circulatory system and shock, followed by death, if circulatory failure is not corrected. In addition, the patient with DHF has a low platelet count and tendency to bruise easily or other types of skin hemorrhages, bleeding nose or gums, and possibly internal bleeding.
Q.What is the treatment for dengue?
A. There is no specific medication for treatment of a dengue infection. Persons who think they have dengue should use analgesics (pain relievers) with acetaminophen and avoid those containing aspirin. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician. If they feel worse (e.g., develop vomiting and severe abdominal pain) in the first 24 hours after the fever declines, they should go immediately to the hospital for evaluation.
Q.Is there an effective treatment for dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)?
A. As with dengue fever, there is no specific medication for DHF. DHF management frequently requires hospitalization. Physicians who suspect that a patient has DHF may want to consult the Dengue Branch at CDC, for more information.
Q.What can be done to reduce the risk of acquiring dengue?
A.There is no vaccine for preventing dengue. The best preventive measure for residents living in areas infested with Ae. aegypti is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water.
Q.How can we prevent epidemics of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)?
A.The emphasis for dengue prevention is on sustainable, community-based, integrated mosquito control. Residents are responsible for keeping their yards and patios free of standing water where mosquitoes can be produced.