Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a virus. The disease is mainly tropical in origin but occasionally residents or visitors from other countries may arrive in this country with dengue fever. Cases originating in the United States are rare.
Dengue fever may occur in people of all ages who are exposed to infected mosquitoes. The disease occurs mainly in tropical Asia and the Caribbean, usually during the rainy seasons in areas with high numbers of infected mosquitoes.
Dengue fever is spread by the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person.
Dengue fever is characterized by the rapid development of a fever that may last from five to seven days with intense headache, joint and muscle pain and a rash. The hemorrhagic form of dengue fever is more severe and associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache and abdominal pain. Shock and circulatory failure may occur.
Dengue fever may occur from three to 14 days after exposure to an infected mosquito, commonly within four to seven days.
There is no specific treatment available. Intravenous fluids and oxygen therapy are often used for patients who experience shock during their illness.
Control measures are limited to advising travelers to affected areas to minimize exposure to infected mosquitoes. Use of mosquito netting and repellents may be helpful in minimizing exposure.