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

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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