What is Dengue Fever
Dengue fever is a disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is caused by one of four dengue viruses. Once you are infected with one of the dengue viruses, you will develop immunity to that virus for the rest of your life. However, you can still be infected with the other three viruses. It is possible to get all four dengue viruses in your lifetime. The viruses that cause dengue fever are related to those that cause yellow fever and West Nile virus infection.
Dengue fever is transmitted via the bite of a mosquito harboring the dengue virus. Person-to-person transmission does not occur.
Doctors use blood tests to check for viral antibodies or the presence of infection. If you experience dengue symptoms after traveling outside the country, you should see a healthcare provider to check if you are infected.
There is no medication or treatment specifically for dengue infection. If you believe you may be infected with dengue, you should use over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce your fever, headache, and joint pain. However, aspirin and ibuprofen can cause more bleeding and should be avoided.
A small percentage of individuals who have dengue fever can develop a more serious form of disease known as dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Prevent Dengue Fever
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue fever. The best method of protection is to avoid mosquito bites and to reduce the mosquito population. When in a high-risk area, you should:
- avoid heavily populated residential areas
- use mosquito repellent indoors and outdoors
- wear long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks
- use air conditioning instead of opening windows
- ensure that window and door screens are secure, and any holes are repaired
- use mosquito nets if sleeping areas are not screened