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Dengue fever

What is dengue fever?”

Dengue - also called dengue fever - is caused by the dengue virus that's spread by mosquito bites in some parts of the world.

People don’t get dengue in the UK - but it is possible to come home from travelling with the infection without symptoms, only for symptoms to appear later.

The dengue virus is not passed on directly from someone who has caught it from a mosquito.

Symptoms of dengue fever

Symptoms appear around 4-10 days after being infected. The symptoms can then develop suddenly and last around a week. They include:

More rarely, severe dengue symptoms can develop. These can be life-threatening and include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Swollen stomach
  • Continual vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bleeding beneath the skin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Clammy and cold skin
  • A fast put weak pulse
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Unconsciousness.


Dengue diagnosis

Medical treatment may not be needed for mild symptoms of dengue fever in otherwise healthy people.

Seek urgent medical advice for severe dengue symptoms - by dialling 999 for an ambulance if you are home in the UK.

Doctors will diagnose dengue based on the symptoms, recent travel and a physical examination.

Samples may be taken for laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of dengue Fever

There is not a specific treatment for dengue.

Mild symptoms and discomfort may be helped with:

If symptoms don’t improve - seek medical attention. Serious cases of dengue may need hospital treatment.

Where is dengue a concern?

The mosquitoes that can carry the dengue virus are called Aedes aegypti and are often found around stagnant water. They tend to bite people during daylight hours from early morning to dusk.

Check with your travel agent or travel clinic for specific information about your holiday destination - but dengue is generally a risk in places including:

  • Southeast Asia
  • The Caribbean
  • Indian subcontinent
  • South America and Central America
  • Africa
  • Pacific Islands
  • Australia.

Dengue prevention

There's not yet a widely available vaccine to protect against dengue - the important thing is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos in the first place. Tips include:

  • Avoiding stagnant water where the mosquitoes may be breeding
  • Covering up with loose clothing to avoid bites
  • Using appropriate bug repellent - and age-appropriate repellent for children
  • Mosquito nets while sleeping - although dengue mosquitoes tend to bite during the day, mosquitoes can carry other infections - so use an insecticide-treated mosquito net at night.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on November 12, 2016

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