Everything You Need To Know About Dengue
Dengue: Everything You Need to Know
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a disease caused by a number of closely related viruses (DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, DENV 4. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF), is a more severe form of dengue which can be fatal if not identified quickly.
How is it spread?
Dengue and DHF is transmitted to humans via an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus). Mosquitos become infected by biting a person who is already infected with dengue. Those infected with dengue or DHF may or may not have symptoms. After one week, the mosquito is able to transmit the virus to healthy people. Dengue cannot be spread from person to person.
Dengue outbreaks can occur primarily in areas where the mosquitos live, including most tropical urban areas. Dengue can also be introduced to different areas via travel to infected places.
Am I at risk?
Residents or visitors to tropical/subtropical environments, especially urban and suburban areas are at risk. Children under the age of 15 present the disease with increased severity. A person can also be infected by dengue four different times, as there is no cross-immunity. There is an increased risk for infection in housing without air conditioning or screened windows and doors.
How can I protect myself?
The best way to prevent the infection and spread of dengue and DHF is for those who live in high-risk areas to eliminate places where mosquitos lay their eggs (ie: containers that hold water). Items that collect or store water should be drained, covered, or properly disposed of. Pet/animal watering containers and vases with flowers should be emptied and cleaned at least once a week to remove mosquito eggs and larvae.
Using air conditioning or window/door screens reduces the risk of mosquitos coming indoors. Proper application of mosquito repellants containing 20% to 30% DEET reduces the risk of getting bitten. Wearing protective clothing (long sleeves and pants) can also help reduce infection risk.
What are the symptoms?
- high fever
- severe headache
- severe pain behind the eyes
- joint, muscle and bone pain
- mild bleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising
Symptoms of DHF include 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.
How is it treated?
There is no vaccine or specific medication for the treatment of dengue or DHF. People who think they are infected should use analgesics (pain relievers) with acetaminophen, avoiding those that contain aspirin. People should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and consult a physician regarding testing for dengue. If symptoms worsen in the first 24 hours after fever declines, infected persons should go immediately to a hospital for evaluation.
Travelers are advised to practice normal precautionary measures when traveling to places where dengue/DHF occurs.
Information has been adapted from CDC.org