Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever

(Break Bone Fever)

Pronounced: Deng-ay

Definition

Dengue fever is a viral infection. It can range from mild to severe and life-threatening,

Causes

An infected mosquito passes the virus through a bite to the skin. The virus enters the blood. It spreads throughout the body.

Mosquito Bite

Mosquito bite
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Risk Factors

The risk for dengue fever higher for those who live in or travel to:

  • Southeast Asia
  • Western Pacific
  • Americas
  • Eastern Mediterranean
  • Africa

Symptoms

Some people do not have symptoms. Others may have a mild, flu-like illness. Symptoms may be:

  • Fever and chills
  • Headache or eye pain
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Red or purple spots in skin
  • Minor bleeding in the nose or gums
  • Nausea or vomiting

Serious signs are:

  • Severe belly pain
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Bleeding from the gums or nose that is hard to stop
  • Black tarry stools or blood in the urine
  • Tiredness or restlessness
  • Problems breathing
  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Feeling faint

A serious infection can lead to shock and organ failure.

Diagnosis

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

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.

Prevention

The risk of infection may be reduced by mosquito control measures. A dengue vaccine is available in some countries.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov
IDSA—Infectious Diseases Society of America
http://www.idsociety.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.canada.ca
Travel Health and Safety
https://travel.gc.ca

References:

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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