Dengue fever

Dengue fever is a viral infectious disease.

Overview

Dengue fever is a viral infectious disease. It is transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito, which is found in (sub)tropical regions. Typical symptoms include fever, a general feeling of being unwell, joint and muscle pains. The most important preventive measure is protection against mosquito bites (long-sleeved clothing, mosquito net, etc.). Vaccines are currently being tested.

Symptoms

  • Often (approx. 90% of the time), there are no symptoms following infection
  • Symptoms occur 2 to 14 days (= incubation period) after the mosquito bite
    • Acutely high fever
    • General feeling of being unwell
    • Headaches
    • Pronounced joint and muscle pain (“breakbone fever”)
    • Generally swollen lymph nodes
    • Slow pulse and skin rash (typical, but doesn't always appear)
  • Symptoms disappear after about 1 week

Dengue haemorrhagic fever

  • Seldom but serious complication
  • Bleeding
  • Potentially, severe coagulation disorders
  • Potentially, shock symptoms

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • Pathogen: dengue virus
  • Sting of yellow fever mosquito (in particular Aedes aegypti) as the carrier of the virus
    • Primarily during the day and early evening
    • Mosquito is found worldwide in the (sub)tropics (in particular in Asia)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Blood test (search for pathogen)
Possible therapies
  • Isolation (risk of contagion)
    • Persons you've been in contact with may also have to be isolated
  • Treatment of symptoms
    • Medication (fever/painkillers)
    • Control coagulation
    • Replace lost fluids

What can I do myself?

  • Most important: replace lost fluids (because of fever and tropical heat, drink approx. 3 to 4 litres per day)
  • Reduce fever with vinegar socks or vinegar wraps
  • For fever while travelling, it’s better not to take acetylsalicylic acid preparations (risk of bleeding, paracetamol is better)
  • Protection against mosquito bites
    • Mosquito screens, mosquito nets, possibly impregnated with mosquito repellent
    • Long-sleeved, light-coloured clothing (also for children)
    • Apply mosquito repellent to skin
  • Don't let water stand uncovered (could serve as breeding ground for mosquitoes)
  • Strict hygiene measures in treating infected patients
    • Disinfect the hands after all physical contact
    • Don't share utensils, etc.
  • Before every trip to the tropics: consultation with specialists or the institute for tropical diseases

When to see a doctor?

If following symptoms occur during or up to three weeks after returning from a trip to the (sub)tropics (general suspicion of a tropical disease)

  • Fever
  • Feeling ill
  • Bleeding
  • Headache/joint pain/muscle pain
  • Very slow or rapid pulse (no discernible cause)
  • New appearance of a skin rash

Further information

Ostschweizer Infostelle für Reisemedizin (Eastern Switzerland Information Centre for Travel Medicine)
www.osir.ch

Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Schweizerisches Tropen- und Public Health-Institut)
www.swisstph.ch

FDFA (travel links)
www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en

Synonyms

dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever, dengue haemorrhagic fever

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Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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