Dengue fever (break bone fever) is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever are present in urban and rural areas, and active during daylight hours. Risk of infection is greater in urban centers.
Most Prevalent Locations
The disease primarily occurs in most of tropical Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America, and Africa. Isolated incidences have been found in North America. There is a decreased risk of dengue at elevations above 4,500 feet (1,372 meters). Symptoms of dengue fever usually last about seven days. A less common yet severe and fatal form of dengue fever, known as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), may also occur.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have had an episode of dengue fever, be aware that reinfection with a different strain of the illness may result in the more severe form of DHF. The risk of dengue infection for the international traveler appears to be small, unless an epidemic is in progress. Take note of the following symptoms associated with dengue fever.
- Sudden onset of high fever (and at least two of the following)
- Severe headache
- Joint and muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- DHF progressing to abdominal pain, bleeding, shock, and possible death
Prevention of Dengue Fever
There is no immunization for dengue fever, so take steps to prevent infection.
- Stay in screened or air-conditioned areas.
- Use insecticide area sprays.
- Use mosquito repellents containing DEET.
- Wear protective clothing to avoid mosquito bites.
- For residents: Empty any sources of standing water.
Treatment if Infected with Dengue Fever
Seek the advice of a physician if a fever develops within two weeks of leaving an area where dengue fever is known to occur. Seek prompt medical attention if you experience fever associated with skin rash, bleeding, or easy bruising. To reduce the risk of bleeding, take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or paracetamol for fever, rather than aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents.
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