Dengue Fever

(Break Bone Fever)

Definition

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.

Causes

Dengue fever is caused by 1 of 4 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.
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito bite
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Travel to tropical or subtropical areas can increase your chance of getting dengue fever. Areas with known dengue fever include:
  • Africa
  • India
  • Southeast Asia and China
  • Middle East
  • Countries in the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico) and Central and South America
  • Australia
  • Locations in the Central and South Pacific
  • Occasionally in Florida (Key West) and Texas (bordering Mexico)

Symptoms

Young children or those with their first infection may have mild symptoms. Primary symptoms are a high fever and at least 2 of the following:
  • Severe headache
  • Severe eye pain
  • Chills and fever
  • Muscle and or bone pain
  • Red or purple spots in skin
  • Minor bleeding in the nose or gum
  • Easy bruising
  • Nausea/vomiting
The fever tends to reduce within 3-7 days after symptoms begin. As the fever decreases, warning signs of a severe infection may appear, such as:
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Uncontrolled bleeding from gums or nose
  • Black tarry stool or blood in urine
  • Lethargy or restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness
A severe infection can lead to shock and organ failure.

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