What is Dengue ?

Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are viral diseases transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, usually Ae. aegypti.

The four dengue viruses (DEN-1 through DEN-4) are immunologically related, but do not provide cross-protective immunity against each other.

This disease used to be called break-bone fever because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years. Dengue fever is found mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and China, India, Middle East, Caribbean and Central and South America, Australia and the South and Central Pacific


Dengue viruses are transmitted to humans through the bites of infective female Aedes mosquitoes. Mosquitoes generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person. After virus incubation for 8-10 days, an infected mosquito is capable, during probing and blood feeding, of transmitting the virus, to susceptible individuals for the rest of its life. Infected female mosquitoes may also transmit the virus to their offspring by transovarial (via the eggs) transmission, but the role of this in sustaining transmission of virus to humans has not yet been delineated.

Humans are the main amplifying host of the virus, although studies have shown that in some parts of the world monkeys may become infected and perhaps serve as a source of virus for uninfected mosquitoes. The virus circulates in the blood of infected humans for two to seven days, at approximately the same time as they have fever ; Aedes mosquitoes may acquire the virus when they feed on an individual during this period.


Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death.
Dengue fever is characterized by sudden onset after an incubation period of 3-14 days (most commonly 4-7 days), high fevers, severe frontal headache, and joint and muscle pain. Many patients have nausea, vomiting, and rash. The rash appears 3-5 days after onset of fever and can spread from the torso to the arms, legs, and face.

The clinical features of dengue fever vary according to the age of the patient. Infants and young children may have a non-specific febrile illness with rash. Older children and adults may have either a mild febrile syndrome or the classical incapacitating disease with abrupt onset and high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, and rash.

haemorrhagic fever
is a potentially deadly complication that is characterized by high fever, haemorrhagic phenomena—often with enlargement of the liver—and in severe cases, circulatory failure. The illness commonly begins with a sudden rise in temperature accompanied by facial flush and other non-specific constitutional symptoms of dengue fever. The fever usually continues for two to seven days and can be as high as 40-41°C, possibly with febrile convulsions and haemorrhagic phenomena.

In moderate DHF cases, all signs and symptoms abate after the fever subsides. In severe cases, the patient’s condition may suddenly deteriorate after a few days of fever ; the temperature drops, followed by signs of circulatory failure, and the patient may rapidly go into a critical state of shock and die within 12-24 hours, or quickly recover following appropriate volume replacement therapy.