What is dengue?
Dengue is a viral infection Overview of Viral Infections A virus is a tiny living organism. Viruses are so small they can be seen only with the most powerful microscopes. That's why they're called microorganisms (micro means very small). Other common... read more spread by mosquitoes. A more serious version of the disease, called dengue hemorrhagic fever, causes bleeding and can be deadly.
Dengue is most common in the tropics and subtropics, such as Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean
You can get dengue if you're bitten by an infected mosquito
Symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches
You can get dengue more than one time
If you're traveling to an area with dengue, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites
What causes dengue?
Dengue is caused by the dengue virus. This virus is in most tropical and subtropical parts of the world. It's most common in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. But a few people have gotten dengue in the southern United States and Hawaii.
When a mosquito bites an infected person, it picks up the virus and gives it to the next person it bites.
What are the symptoms of dengue?
For 2 to 3 days, you'll feel weak and tired and have:
High fever and chills
Pain when you move your eyes
Severe aching pain in your back, legs, and joints—these are so painful that dengue was nicknamed “breakbone fever”
Rash on your face
After you have these symptoms, you may feel better for a day, and then the fever and rash may come back, this time on your chest, back, arms, and face.
In more severe cases, people may feel weak for several weeks, but it's rare to die from dengue fever.
What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a much more severe type of dengue. It mainly affects children younger than 10 in areas where dengue is common.
If you have dengue hemorrhagic fever, you have dengue symptoms and also:
Bleeding from your nose, mouth, rectum, and any puncture wounds
Pain in your belly
Throwing up blood
Blood in your stool or in urine
Purple spots on your skin from bleeding under your skin
Go to the hospital right away if you have symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever.
How can doctors tell if I have dengue?
Doctors suspect dengue based on your symptoms and if you've been in an area where mosquitoes carry the infection. To know for sure, they’ll do blood tests.
How do doctors treat dengue?
There's no medicine to kill the dengue virus. Doctors will:
Have you take medicine, such as acetaminophen, to lessen pain and lower your fever
Give you IV fluids (into your vein), especially if you have dengue hemorrhagic fever
Don’t take aspirin or ibuprofen because they can cause bleeding or make it worse.
Doctors will keep you under mosquito nets while you're sick so mosquitoes don't pick up the infection from you and spread it to other people.
How can I prevent dengue?
If you live in or visit an area with dengue, take steps to prevent mosquito bites:
Spray your skin with a DEET bug spray
Use mosquito nets
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Put in window screens and repair any holes
Get rid of standing water in and near the home where mosquitoes multiply
In the US, a dengue vaccine is approved for use in children who
Are 9 to 16 years old
Have had dengue previously, and
Live in an area where dengue is endemic (occurs frequently or continuously)
In the US, endemic areas include some territories and freely associated states, such as Puerto Rico. The vaccine is not approved for travelers who are visiting but not living in an area where dengue is common. The vaccine is also available in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, and some other countries.