Dengue fever – Symptoms, Signs and tests, Treatment

Dengue fever is a virus-caused disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash that is similar to measles.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and subtropic regions. This includes parts of:

  • Indonesian archipelago into northeastern Australia
  • South and Central America
  • Southeast Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Some parts of the Caribbean

Dengue fever is being seen more often in world travelers.

Dengue fever should not be confused with Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a separate disease that is caused by the same type of virus but has much more severe symptoms.

Symptoms:

Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection.

A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 – 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable. Other symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache (especially behind the eyes)
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vomiting

Signs and tests:

Tests that may be done to diagnose this condition include:

  • Antibody titer for dengue virus types
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for dengue virus types

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. You will need fluids if there are signs of dehydration. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used to treat a high fever. Avoid taking aspirin.

 

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