Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are viral illnesses transmitted by the bite/sting of a mosquito. The mosquito species that carries dengue virus is active, biting during daylight hours, with a peak of activity just after daybreak, and then again for several hours before dark. These insects are often present indoors, and are common in areas of human habitation, including urban and rural areas throughout the tropical areas of the world.
Symptoms of dengue fever include:
On the third or fourth day of the fever, many people will develop a rash on the torso, which then spreads to the arms and legs.
Usually the illness is "self-limited" in travelers and relatively mild, meaning it runs its course over a week or two, though in rare circumstances it can cause severe symptoms.
Another name for this illness is "break-bone fever" due to the extreme bone pain that can accompany this disease.
There is no specific treatment for classic dengue fever, and most people recover within 2 weeks. To help with recovery:
International travelers to areas where Dengue Fever occurs are at risk, more so if there is current epidemic activity underway at the time of the trip. Dengue is becoming an increasing health concern worldwide due to spread of significant disease in 2005-2007 in areas of the world without previous recent Dengue Fever.
Luckily, cases of severe Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever are rare, since this typically afflicts only those persons who reside in areas where dengue exists and are subject to repeated infections. Your travel health care adviser will let you know if dengue is a risk for you on your planned travel abroad.
Since there is no vaccine against dengue at this time, the best prevention is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place. Follow these tips to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes:
Your travel health adviser will discuss use of DEET in preventing dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases including malaria during your Travel Clinic visit.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Travel Clinic staff (AT), May 2014