Medical Definition of Breakbone fever

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Breakbone fever: Also known as dengue fever, an acute mosquito-borne viral illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with headache, fever, prostration, severe joint and muscle pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy) and rash. The presence (the "dengue triad") of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic. Better known as dengue, the disease is endemic throughout the tropics and subtropics in various parts of the world. It goes by other names including dandy fever. Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint and muscle pain. 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.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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