(Break Bone Fever)
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Dengue fever is a viral infection. It can range from mild to severe and life-threatening,
An infected mosquito passes the virus through a bite to the skin. The virus enters the blood. It spreads throughout the body.
The risk for dengue fever higher for those who live in or travel to:
Some people do not have symptoms. Others may have a mild, flu-like illness. Symptoms may be:
Serious signs are:
A serious infection can lead to shock and organ failure.
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, and health and travel history. A physical exam and blood tests may be done.
A tourniquet test may be done to check for bleeding under the skin. This test uses an inflated blood pressure cuff on the upper arm for 5 minutes.
Treatment depends on how severe the illness is. It may include rest and replacing fluids by mouth or IV.
In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be given.
The risk of infection may be reduced by mosquito control measures. A dengue vaccine is available in some countries.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
IDSA—Infectious Diseases Society of America
Public Health Agency of Canada
Travel Health and Safety
Dengue. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Dengue. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/dengue. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Dengue fever. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/dengue-fever . Accessed February 1, 2021.
Karesh J, Mazzoli R, et al. Ocular manifestations of mosquito-transmitted diseases. Military Medicine, 2018; 183 (S): 450-458.
Mosquito avoidance. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/mosquito-avoidance. Accessed February 1, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2021 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 2/1/2021
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