Can Dengue Fever Be Cured?

Ask the experts

A friend of mine is a missionary in a tropical area of Asia; he was recently diagnosed with dengue fever. I don't know much about the outbreak of the virus near where he's staying. I can't contact him much because he's in a rural area, but I'm very worriued about his condition. Can dengue fever be cured? What is the best treatment for dengue fever? What's the best medicine for dengue?

Doctor's response

Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there are no specific antibiotics to treat it. Antiviral medications are also not indicated for dengue fever. For typical dengue, the treatment is concerned with relief of the symptoms and signs. Home remedies such as rest and fluid intake (oral rehydration) are important. Pain relievers such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should only be taken under a doctor's supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and codeine may be given for severe headache and for joint and muscle pain (myalgia).

Patients hospitalized for dengue may receive IV fluids.

Carica papaya leaf extract (papaya leaf) has been shown in several clinical studies to be an effective treatment for dengue fever.

The prognosis for dengue is usually good. The worst symptoms of the illness typically last one to two weeks, and most patients will fully recover within several additional weeks.

Typical dengue is fatal in less than 1% of cases; however, dengue hemorrhagic fever is fatal in 2.5% of cases. If dengue hemorrhagic fever is not treated, mortality (death) rates can be as high as 20%-50%.

For more information, read our full medical article about dengue fever.

Reviewed on 9/24/2018