Dengue is a virus that is carried by mosquitos and affects over 100 million people worldwide each year. The virus is passed to humans through mosquito bites. Those who inhabit or visit tropical or sub-tropical regions, particularly in urban or suburban areas, are most at risk for infection. Symptoms of Dengue include a high fever, intense headache or aching behind the eyes, joint pain, easy bruising, gum or nose bleeds, bone and muscle pain, swollen glands, and a rash. Symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after infection and last for 2-7 days.
There are four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. Once an individual has recovered from one of these types, that individual will not develop symptoms from that same type again. When an individual is infected by a different type, however, there is a risk for severe dengue. Symptoms of severe dengue include vomiting (sometimes bloody), tiredness, severe stomach pain, fast breathing, restlessness, and bleeding gums. These symptoms occur after the high fever of dengue has dropped. Severe dengue requires immediate treatment, as it can cause the liquid part of the blood (plasma) to leak from small blood vessels (capillaries). This condition leads to severe loss of blood volume (shock) and can be life-threatening. Other complications may include internal bleeding, difficulty breathing, and accumulation of fluid in the body.
Severe dengue is treated by fluid replacement therapy. Dengue prevention methods focus on avoiding mosquitos, such as by getting rid of stagnant water in containers where mosquitos lay eggs and using bed nets during the night and mosquito repellant when outdoors. If you have been diagnosed with dengue, talk to your doctor about current treatment options. In addition, consult a medical professional for advice before traveling to areas where there is a potential to be infected by the dengue virus.