Dengue Fever

What is it, and where am I at risk?

Most commonly, Dengue Fever is a painful and sometimes debilitating virus spread by an infected mosquito that bites primarily during the day.

This mosquito acquires the virus by biting a person who was infected with the Dengue Fever virus within the past 8-12 days, and can spread the virus for the rest of its life (lifespan of a mosquito? 1 month).

It is estimated that 50 million cases occur every year, and about 1% of those require hospitalization.

Dengue Fever is usually found in tropical and subtropical regions – the Caribbean, Central and South America, Western Pacific Islands, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. It is often found in populated urban and residential areas of tropical nations.

What is the best way to know if you are at risk?  Check with your clinician at your consultation at the Travel & Immunization Clinic of Portland.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

The incubation period is 3-14 days, and symptoms may include:

Fever

Nausea

Rash - (usually appears as the fever subsides, and lasts 2-4 days)

Headache

Vomiting

Pain in the eyes, joints, and muscles

Severe cases of Dengue Fever may include:

Intense stomach pain

Continued vomiting

Death

Bleeding from the nose or gums

Dengue Fever is sometimes called "Breakbone Fever," since very ill individuals can shiver so violently with fever that they fear they will break a bone

50% of individuals may be asymptomatic with the primary course of the disease.

Second exposure to Dengue Fever can substantially increase complications, including hemorrhagic complications.

How can I prevent Dengue Fever?

Since there is no medication or vaccine to prevent or treat Dengue Fever, the best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites.

Your biggest risk times are early mornings, several hours after daybreak, and in the late afternoon before sunset.

HOWEVER, you can be bitten at any time. These mosquitos typically live indoors, and prefer dark and cool places – in closets, bedding, curtains, or bathrooms.

 

Things you CAN do to try to avoid mosquito bites:

Use insect repellents at all times - products containing DEET or Picardin are recommended by the CDC

Cover exposed skin with long sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Treat clothing with repellants or insecticide

Consider using bed nets or other travel products

Choose lodging with well-screened windows or air conditioning

It only takes one bite to be infected!