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What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that poses a significant health risk in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. With increasing global travel and climate change, understanding dengue fever, its symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures is crucial for public health. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into everything you need to know about dengue fever.

Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected Aides mosquitoes, primarily Aides aegypti. The virus has four distinct serotypes (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4), meaning a person can be infected four times in their lifetime.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever symptoms typically appear 4-10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include:

  • High Fever: Sudden onset of high fever (up to 104°F or 40°C).
  • Severe Headache: Intense pain behind the eyes.
  • Joint and Muscle Pain: Often referred to as “backbone fever” due to severe pain.
  • Rash: Skin rash that may appear a few days after the fever begins.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Accompanied by loss of appetite.
  • Fatigue: Extreme tiredness and weakness.
  • Mild Bleeding: Such as nosebleeds, gum bleeding, or easy bruising.

Diagnosis and Treatment


Diagnosing dengue fever involves a combination of clinical evaluation and laboratory tests. Common diagnostic methods include:

  • Blood Tests: To detect the presence of the dengue virus or antibodies.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): To monitor platelet levels, as low platelet counts are common in dengue patients.


There is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue fever. Management focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing complications. Key aspects of treatment include:

  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Pain Relief: Using acetaminophen (paracetamol) for pain and fever relief. Avoid aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Rest: Ensuring adequate rest to support the immune system.
  • MonitoringRegular monitoring of blood counts and clinical status, especially in severe cases.

Severe Dengue (Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever)


Severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, is a potentially life-threatening complication. It can lead to:

  • Severe Bleeding: Internal bleeding, bleeding gums, or nosebleeds.
  • Organ Impairment: Damage to the liver, heart, or other organs.
  • Plasma Leakage: Fluid leakage from blood vessels, leading to shock.

Immediate medical attention is crucial for severe dengue cases. Hospitalization and supportive care, such as intravenous fluids and blood transfusions, may be required.

Prevention of Dengue Fever

Preventing dengue fever focuses on controlling mosquito populations and avoiding mosquito bites. Effective preventive measures include:

  • Eliminating Breeding Sites: Regularly emptying, cleaning, or covering containers that hold water, such as flower pots, buckets, and old tires.
  • Using Mosquito Repellents: Applying insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wearing Protective Clothing: Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks to minimize skin exposure.
  • Installing Screens: Using window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of living areas.
  • Using Mosquito Nets: Sleeping under mosquito nets, especially in areas with high mosquito activity.
  • Community Efforts: Participating in community clean-up campaigns and mosquito control programs.