Dengue Fever

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quick GuideTravel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

Travel Health Pictures Slideshow: Vaccines & Preventing Diseases Abroad

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence of fever, itchy rash, and headache (the "dengue triad") is characteristic of dengue. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles.

Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) can affect anyone but tends to be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because it is caused by one of five serotypes the dengue virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular viral serotype to which the patient was exposed.

Dengue goes by other names, including "breakbone fever" or "dandy fever." Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense pain in the joints, muscles, and bones, hence the name breakbone fever. Slaves in the West Indies who contracted dengue were said to have dandy fever because of their postures and gait.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of bleeding (hemorrhage) in the body. Petechiae (small red spots or purple splotches or blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.

Picture of Aedes albopictus mosquito
Picture of Aedes albopictus mosquito
Reviewed on 4/28/2016
References
REFERENCES:

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Dengue Vaccine Initiative. <http://www.denguevaccines.org/>.

Effler, P.V., et al. "Dengue Fever, Hawaii, 2001-2002." Emerg Infec Dis 11.5 May 2005: 742-749. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15890132>.

Hendrick, Bill. "FDA OKs Test for Dengue Fever." WebMD.com. Apr. 13, 2011. <http://www.webmd.com/news/20110413/fda-oks-test-for-dengue-fever>.

New Zealand. Auckland Regional Public Health Service. "Dengue Fever, Zika & Chikungunya." September 2015. <http://www.arphs.govt.nz/health-information/communicable-disease/dengue-fever-zika-chikungunya#.VgB53HvBdgo>.

Seet, Raymond C.S., Amy M.L. Quek, and Erle C.H. Lim. "Post-infectious fatigue syndrome in dengue infection." Journal of Clinical Virology 38 (2007): 1-6. <http://189.28.128.102/portal/arquivos/kitdengue2/aspectosclinicos/textos/
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Shepherd, Suzanne Moore. "Dengue." Medscape.com. Oct. 5, 2015. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/215840-overview#a6>.

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United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Chikungunya." Oct. 6, 2010. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/chikungunya/>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Dengue." June 15, 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/Dengue/>.

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United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Locally Acquired Dengue -- Key West, Florida, 2009-2010." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 59.19 May 21, 2010: 577-581. <http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5919a1.htm>.

United States. State of Hawaii, Department of Health. "Dengue Outbreak 2015." Jan. 8, 2016. <http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/dengue-outbreak-2015/>.

"Why a Vaccine." Dengue Vaccine Initiative. <http://www.denguevaccines.org/why-a-vaccine>.

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12."Dengue" by CDC per University of South Carolina Biomedical Sciences

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