(Break Bone Fever)
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Dengue fever is a flu-like illness. The infection is passed to humans through mosquito bites. Children and infants who are infected may have no symptoms or only a minor, flu-like illness. Adults who become infected may develop a more severe, life-threatening illness.
You should contact your doctor immediately if you suspect that you have dengue fever.
Dengue fever is caused by one of four specific dengue viruses. They are passed to humans by infected mosquitoes. The bite can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream and spread through the body. Once in the body the virus may cause dengue fever.
Risk Factors TOP
Travel to tropical or subtropical areas can increase your chance of getting dengue fever. Areas with known dengue fever include:
Young children or those with their first infection may have very mild symptoms. Primary symptoms are a high fever and at least two of the following:
The fever tends to decline within 3-7 days after symptoms begin. As the fever decreases, warning signs of a severe infection may appear. Warning signs can include:
A severe infection can lead to shock and organ failure.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will also ask about recent travel to high-risk areas.
Blood tests may be done to look for:
You may be referred to a specialist.
There are no medications currently available that can provide a cure. Treatment is aimed at providing support while the body fights off and eliminates the virus. Supportive care may include:
If you are in an area with known dengue fever, the following steps may help decrease your risk of dengue fever:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Dengue. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/. Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Dengue. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated March 11, 2013. Accessed May 16, 2013.
Dengue. World Health Organization (WHO) website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Factsheets/dengue.htm . Accessed July 3, 2005.
Dengue fever. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Factsheets/dengue.htm . Accessed July 3, 2005.
10/1/2013 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamicmedical.com/what.php : Reimer LJ, Thomsen EK, Tisch DJ, et al. Insecticidal bed nets and filariasis transmission in Papua New Guinea. N Eng J Med. 2013 Aug 22; 369(8):745-53.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 10/1/2013