Dengue fever is caused by a virus and is often confused with other infections such as malaria or typhoid fever. Clinically, it presents symptoms similar to those of the flu, including fever attacks, headaches, joint-and-muscle pain as well as nausea and/or vomiting. A skin rash may appear 3 to 4 days after the onset of fever. Onset is sudden and symptoms may last up to 10 days. Although the disease is usually benign, it can occur in a severe form known as dengue haemorrhagic fever, which is 1 of 4 known types of dengue fever, and which results in death in 5 percent of cases.
Dengue fever is most often found in tropical urban areas. It has a distribution pattern similar to that of malaria. The Aedes mosquito, which also transmits yellow fever, transmits the dengue virus. This mosquito is active all day long. It is found near, and even inside, dwellings.
There is no vaccine against dengue fever. In 1997, dengue fever was the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral illness in the world. There are no travel-related requirements.
Typical anti-mosquito precautions are essential: insect repellent, mosquito netting, and light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
The symptoms of dengue fever can be treated with bed rest, hydration, and acetaminophen as needed. Do not administer Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (eg. ibuprofen) because it may aggravate the bleeding tendency associated with some dengue infections.
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