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A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M.; 2013.

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.

Dengue fever

O'nyong-nyong fever; Dengue-like disease; Breakbone fever

Last reviewed: September 1, 2013.

Dengue fever is a virus-caused disease that is spread by mosquitoes.

See also: Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and subtropic regions. This area includes parts of:

  • Indonesian archipelago into northeastern Australia
  • South and Central America
  • Southeast Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Some parts of the Caribbean

Dengue fever is being seen more often in world travelers.

Dengue fever should not be confused with Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a separate disease that is caused by the same type of virus, but has much more severe symptoms.

Symptoms

Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 - 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection.

A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 to 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache (especially behind the eyes)
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal stuffiness

Signs and tests

Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:

  • Antibody titer for dengue virus types
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for dengue virus types
  • Liver function tests

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. You will need fluids if there are signs of dehydration. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used to treat a high fever.

Avoid taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). They may increase bleeding problems.

Expectations (prognosis)

The condition generally lasts a week or more. Although uncomfortable, dengue fever is not deadly. People with the condition should fully recover.

Complications

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have traveled in an area where dengue fever is known to occur and have developed symptoms of the disease.

Prevention

Clothing, mosquito repellent, and netting can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Traveling during periods of minimal mosquito activity can also be helpful.

Mosquito abatement programs may reduce the risk of infection.

References

  1. Naides SJ. Arthropod-borne viruses causing fever and rash syndromes. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 390.
  2. Vaughn DW, Barrett A, Solomon T. Flaviviruses (yellow fever, dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone: 2009:chap 153.

Review Date: 9/1/2013.

Reviewed by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsementscof those other sites. © 1997–2011 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.

What works?

  • Continuous negative extrathoracic pressure or continuous positive airway pressure for children with acute respiratory failure and shortage of oxygen
    Children develop respiratory failure and shortage of oxygen when they have infectious or non‐infectious respiratory illnesses. Continuous negative extrathoracic pressure (CNEP) which keeps lungs open by creating negative pressure on the chest or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which keeps lungs open by delivering positive pressure in the lungs during all phases of breathing are used to help increase blood oxygen levels in respiratory failure and thereby reduce organ damage and risk of death. However, the safety and efficacy of these methods of respiratory support are uncertain. The searches for this review were updated in July 2013.
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Figures

  • Mosquito, adult feeding on the skin.
    Dengue fever.

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