Dengue Fever

Patient Education

What is Dengue fever?

Dengue (pronounced DENgee) fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses.

Dengue fever is most prevalent in the tropical areas of the world, with the greatest risk occurring in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, Mexico, Africa, and Central and South America.

How is Dengue fever acquired?

Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. It can’t be spread directly from one person to another person.

What are the symptoms of Dengue fever?

Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include

  • Sudden, high fever

  • Severe headaches

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Severe joint and muscle pain

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Skin rash, which appears three to four days after the onset of fever

  • Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

Younger children and people who have never had the infection before tend to have milder cases than older children and adults. However, serious problems can develop, especially a day or two after the fever subsides. These include dengue hemorrhagic fever, a rare complication characterized by high fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, bleeding from the nose and gums, enlargement of the liver, and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death. This is called dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

People with weakened immune systems as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.

When to suspect dengue fever?

If your child has any of the symptoms of Dengue (fever, headache and body aches, vomiting, and abdominal pain), you must consult a doctor.

How is Dengue fever diagnosed?

Doctors can diagnose dengue infection with a blood test to check for the virus or antibodies to it.

What is the treatment of Dengue fever?

There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. Paracetamol can be used for pain and fever relief and aspirin should be avoided, it can worsen bleeding. Rest and plenty of oral fluids are recommended, along with regular consultations with the doctor. If your child starts to feel worse in the first 24 hours after his fever goes down, you should get him to a hospital immediately to be checked for complications.

Complicated cases of Dengue fever need to be hospitalized, treated, and monitored aggressively. The treatment mainly consists of intravenous fluids given judiciously under physician guidance. Monitoring involves serial heart rate, blood pressure, and urine measurements, along with repeated blood tests.

How can Dengue fever be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue fever. The best way to prevent the disease is to prevent bites from infected mosquitoes. This involves protecting yourself and your family and making efforts to keep the mosquito population down.

To protect yourself and your family:

  • Stay away from heavily populated residential areas, if possible.

  • Use mosquito repellents, even indoors.

  • When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.

  • When indoors, use air conditioning if available.

  • Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned, use mosquito nets.

To reduce the mosquito population, get rid of places where mosquitoes can breed. These include old tires, cans, or flower pots that collect rain. Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pets' water dishes.

If someone in your home gets dengue fever, be especially vigilant about efforts to protect yourself and other family members from mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the infection to others in your home.

1. Senenayake AM Kularatne.Dengue fever: Clinical review. BMJ 2015; 351:h4661.
2. Rosmari Rodriguez Roche, et al. Understanding the dengue viruses and progress towards their control: Review article. Biomed Research International, Volume 2013.
3. Nivedita Gupta, et al. Dengue in India: Centenary review article. Indian J Med Res 136, September 2012, pg373-390.
4. Maria G.Guzman, et al. Dengue: a continuing global threat: Evaluating diagnostics.TDR (WHO/TDR) 2010.
5. Dengue illnesses. IAP textbook of paediatric infectious diseases, 2013,pg 313-321.
6. H.Zhang, et al. Predictive symptoms and signs of Severe Dengue Disease for Patients with Dengue fever: Meta Analysis, Review article. Biomed research international, Volume 2014.
7. Sophie Yacoub, et al. Predicting outcome from dengue: Review article, BMC Medicine 2014, 12:147.
8. Dengue: FAQ’s in Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 2014, pg121-123.
9. World Health Organization: WHO.
10. Hand book for clinical management of Dengue. World Health Organisation 2012.

Dengue Fever Dengue Fever 2015-08-01
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