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Misc. News : Non-f.ood Things Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Dengue Fever: NIAID Fact Sheet
Oct 1, 2006, 12:27

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News media reproted one student died of dengue and more than 400 have suffered the disease in India this year. The following information is provided by the National Institutes of Health to help readers understand the disease.

Dengue Fever: NIAID Fact Sheet


Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called "break-bone" fever because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking, hence the name. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years.

Dengue fever is found mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and subtropical areas of

* Africa
* Southeast Asia and China
* India
* Middle East
* Caribbean and Central and South America
* Australia and the South and Central Pacific

An epidemic in Hawaii in 2001 is a reminder that many states in the United States are susceptible to dengue epidemics because they harbor the particular types of mosquitoes that transmit it.

Worldwide, more than 100 million cases of dengue infection occur each year. This includes 100 to 200 cases reported annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mostly in people who have recently traveled abroad. Many more cases likely go unreported because some health care providers do not recognize the disease.

During the last part of the 20th century, many tropical regions of the world saw an increase in dengue cases. Epidemics also occurred more frequently and with more severity. In addition to typical dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome also have increased in many parts of the world.


Dengue fever can be caused by any one of four types of dengue virus: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. You can be infected by at least two, if not all four types at different times during your lifetime, but only once by the same type.


You can get dengue virus infections from the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite infected humans, and later transmit infection to other people they bite. Two main species of mosquito, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have been responsible for all cases of dengue transmitted in this country. Dengue is not contagious from person to person.


Symptoms of typical uncomplicated (classic) dengue usually start with fever within 5 to 6 days after you have been bitten by an infected mosquito and include

* High fever, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit
* Severe headache
* Retro-orbital (behind the eye) pain
* Severe joint and muscle pain
* Nausea and vomiting
* Rash

The rash may appear over most of your body 3 to 4 days after the fever begins. You may get a second rash later in the disease.

Symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever include all of the symptoms of classic dengue plus

* Marked damage to blood and lymph vessels
* Bleeding from the nose, gums, or under the skin, causing purplish bruises

This form of dengue disease can cause death.

Symptoms of dengue shock syndrome-the most severe form of dengue disease-include all of the symptoms of classic dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever, plus

* Fluids leaking outside of blood vessels
* Massive bleeding
* Shock (very low blood pressure)

This form of the disease usually occurs in children (sometimes adults) experiencing their second dengue infection. It is sometimes fatal, especially in children and young adults.


Your health care provider can diagnose dengue fever by doing two blood tests, 2 to 3 weeks apart. The tests can show whether a sample of your blood contains antibodies to the virus. In epidemics, a health care provider often can diagnose dengue by typical signs and symptoms.


There is no specific treatment for classic dengue fever, and like most people you will recover completely within 2 weeks. To help with recovery, health care experts recommend

* Getting plenty of bed rest
* Drinking lots of fluids
* Taking medicine to reduce fever

CDC advises people with dengue fever not to take aspirin. Acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain-reducing medicines are safe for most people.

For severe dengue symptoms, including shock and coma, early and aggressive emergency treatment with fluid and electrolyte replacement can be lifesaving.


The best way to prevent dengue fever is to take special precautions to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Several dengue vaccines are being developed, but none is likely to be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in the next few years.

When outdoors in an area where dengue fever has been found

* Use a mosquito repellant containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus
* Dress in protective clothing-long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes

Because Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, be sure to use precautions especially during early morning hours before daybreak and in the late afternoon before dark.

Other precautions include

* Keeping unscreened windows and doors closed
* Keeping window and door screens repaired
* Getting rid of areas where mosquitoes breed, such as standing water in flower pots, containers, birdbaths, discarded tires, etc.


Most people who develop dengue fever recover completely within 2 weeks. Some, however, may go through several weeks to months of feeling tired and/or depressed.


Scientists supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are trying various approaches to develop vaccines against dengue. Researchers in NIAID laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland, are using weakened and harmless versions of dengue viruses as potential vaccine candidates against dengue and related viruses. Other NIAID-funded investigators are trying to develop dengue virus vaccines using recombinant proteins (with or without adjuvants), viral vectors, and DNA.

Several projects are currently ongoing to identify the host and viral factors that determine the virulence and transmissibility of different dengue virus strains.

Other researchers supported by NIAID are investigating ways to treat infected individuals and to prevent dengue viruses from reproducing inside mosquitoes.

Although dengue virus has emerged as a growing global threat, scientists know little about how the virus infects cells and causes disease. New research is beginning to shed light on how the virus interacts with humans-how it damages cells and how the human immune system responds to dengue virus invasion.


National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
1-888-FIND-NLM (1-888-346-3656) or 301-594-5983

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dengue Branch
2 Calle CaƱada
San Juan, PR 00920-3860
1-888-246-2675 or 787-706-2399

World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27

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