Travel Health Information Sheets
Updated November 2011
Dengue is a viral illness spread by day-biting mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, pain and a rash.
Where is it found?
Dengue is common in parts of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Western Pacific
How can I catch it?
Dengue is spread by a day biting mosquito called Aedes. Your chance of being bitten is highest a couple of hours after sunrise and just before sunset, as these are the times when Aedes mosquitoes feed intensely.
Signs and Symptoms:
- severe headache
- intense joint and muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- a red blanching rash
Courtesy US CDC
Symptoms usually appear five to eight days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Most infections clear upon their own within one to two weeks. However, sometimes a potentially lethal complication, called dengue haemorrhagic fever can develop. This mainly occurs in young children growing up in risk areas and can be fatal.
Research shows that living or spending long periods of time in tropical countries where dengue is common, especially during the transmission season, increases risk. However, even short-term visitors can be exposed – it only takes a single mosquito bite.
There is no specific treatment for dengue. Getting plenty of rest and keeping up with fluids helps you recover. You can take painkillers, but avoid aspirin or ibuprofen, as they increase your risk of internal bleeding.
You must get urgent medical help if you see tiny blood spots or large patches of blood under your skin or if your gums or nose start bleeding. These can be signs of dengue haemorrhagic fever and urgent medical help is essential.
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue, so avoiding mosquito bites is the only way to prevent infection.
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