Neither vaccine nor drugs for preventing infection are available. The bite of one infected mosquito can result in infection. The risk of being bitten is highest during the early morning, several hours after daybreak, and in the late afternoon before sunset. However, mosquitoes may feed at any time during the day. Aedes mosquitoes typically live indoors and are often found in dark, cool places such as in closets, under beds, behind curtains, and in bathrooms. Travelers should be advised to use insecticides to get rid of mosquitoes in these areas and to select accommodations with well-screened windows or air conditioning when possible. Additionally, travelers should take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Long-term travelers and expatriates can take extra precautions to reduce mosquito-breeding sites around their accommodations by emptying and cleaning or covering any standing water (such as in water storage tanks and flowerpot trays).
Dengue Fever Facts.
- Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes.
- Symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence (the “dengue triad”) of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic of dengue fever.
- Dengue is prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics. Outbreaks have occurred recently in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, and in Paraguay in South America, and Costa Rica in Central America.
- Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue fever, the treatment is purely concerned with relief of the symptoms (symptomatic).
- The acute phase of the illness with fever and myalgias lasts about one to two weeks.
- Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).
- The prevention of dengue fever requires control or eradication of the mosquitoes carrying the virus that causes dengue.
- There is currently no vaccine available for dengue fever.
Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence (the “dengue triad”) of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic of dengue. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles.
Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) can affect anyone but tends to be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because it is caused by one of four serotypes of virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular serotype to which the patient was exposed.
Dengue goes by other names, including “breakbone” or “dandy fever.” Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint andmuscle pain, hence the name breakbone fever. Slaves in the West Indies who contracted dengue were said to have dandy fever because of their postures and gait.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. Petechiae (small red or purple splotches or blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.
The transmission of the virus to mosquitoes must be interrupted to prevent the illness. To this end, patients are kept under mosquito netting until the second bout of fever is over and they are no longer contagious.
The prevention of dengue requires control or eradication of the mosquitoes carrying the virus that causes dengue. In nations plagued by dengue fever, people are urged to empty stagnant water from old tires, trash cans, and flower pots. Governmental initiatives to decrease mosquitoes also help to keep the disease in check but have been poorly effective.
To prevent mosquito bites, wear long pants and long sleeves. For personal protection, use mosquito repellant sprays that contain DEET when visiting places where dengue is endemic. There are no specific risk factors for contracting dengue fever, except living in or traveling to an area where the mosquitoes and virus are endemic
Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is purely concerned with relief of the symptoms. Rest and fluid intake for adequate hydration is important. Aspirin andnonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Acetaminophen(Tylenol) and codeine may be given for severe headache and for joint and muscle pain (myalgia).
Further Information at
“Dengue,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada. “Dengue Fever: Global Update.” June 3, 2011. <http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/thn-csv/dengue-eng.php>.
Canada. Public Health Agency of Canada. “Dengue in South East Asia.” Aug. 23, 2007. <http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/2007/dengue070823_e.html>.
“Dengue Fever in Key West.” Florida Department of Health. <http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/Dengue_FloridaKeys.html>.
Hendrick, Bill. “FDA OKs Test for Dengue Fever.” WebMD.com. Apr. 13, 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/news/20110413/fda-oks-test-for-dengue-fever>.
Switzerland. World Health Organization. “Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.” Mar. 2009.<http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/>.