Dengue is spreading across Asia, Africa, and Latin America, dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness caused by a virus. It is a leading cause of death and hospitalization of children in tropical and sub-tropical countries.
Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. It can’t be spread directly from one person to another person.
Only female mosquitoes from the genus Aedes can transmit dengue fever. The main culprit is the Aedes aegypti mosquito or “tiger mosquito” which is larger than other mosquitoes and has white spots and markings along the body and legs. These mosquitoes mostly breed in stagnant water sitting in man-made containers (e.g., empty flower pots and buckets) in urban environments.
Unlike the mosquitoes that transmit malaria, dengue-infected mosquitoes typically bite during the day, particularly at dusk. Protecting yourself from bites in the early morning and late evening just before dusk is essential to avoid potential exposure to dengue fever.
Younger children and people who have never had the infection before tend to have milder cases than older children and adults. People with weakened immune systems as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include
Sudden, high fever
Pain behind the eyes
Severe joint and muscle pain
Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever
Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)
To protect yourself:
Use mosquito repellents, even indoors.
When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
When indoors, use air conditioning if available.
Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened or air conditioned, use mosquito nets.
If you have symptoms of dengue, speak to your doctor.
To reduce the mosquito population, get rid of places where mosquitoes can breed.