Dengue fever is a flu-like illness. The infection is passed to humans through mosquito bites. Children and infants who are infected may have no symptoms or only a minor, flu-like illness. Adults who become infected may develop a more severe, life-threatening illness.
You should contact your doctor immediately if you suspect that you have dengue fever.
Dengue fever is caused by one of four specific viruses. They are passed to humans by infected mosquitoes. The bite can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream and spread through the body. Once in the body the virus may cause dengue fever.
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Travel to tropical or subtropical areas can increase your chance of getting dengue fever. Areas with known dengue fever include:
Young children or those with their first infection may have very mild symptoms. Primary symptoms are a high fever and at least two of the following:
The fever tends to decline within 3-7 days after symptoms begin. As the fever decreases, warning signs of a severe infection may appear. Warning signs can include:
A severe infection can lead to shock and organ failure.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will also ask about recent travel to high-risk areas.
Blood tests may be done to look for:
You may be referred to a specialist.
There are no medications currently available that can provide a cure. Treatment is aimed at providing support while the body fights off and eliminates the virus. Supportive care may include:
If you are in an area with known dengue fever, the following steps may help decrease your risk of dengue fever:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Dengue. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/. Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Dengue. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 11, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Dengue. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Factsheets/dengue.htm . Accessed July 3, 2005.
Dengue fever. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Factsheets/dengue.htm . Accessed July 3, 2005.
Last reviewed May 2013 by Michael K. Mansour, MD, PhD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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