What are the Symptoms of Dengue Fever?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
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Dengue fever is a virus spread through the bite of a mosquito, and it is particularly common in tropical areas. The first symptom is a high fever, generally between 103 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit (39 to 40 Celsius). After three or four days, the infected individual may begin showing a red rash. At a later stage, another rash similar to measles may appear. Other common symptoms of dengue fever are joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Symptoms don’t usually appear until about six days after being bitten by a mosquito that carries the virus.

The mosquito that causes symptoms of dengue fever is the striped Aedes aegypti. They are more common during the rainy season, and they often breed around human settlements in water containers like empty flowerpots or cans, so it’s not unusual for them to come into contact with people. There are four closely related viruses that can cause symptoms of dengue fever, and all of them are sometimes carried by these mosquitoes. The virus is not contagious from person to person, and the only way to get it is through a mosquito bite.


Aedes aegypti is only found in tropic and sub-tropic regions of the world, so those are the places where symptoms of dengue fever are most common. Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia are all areas where dengue fever can be a major problem. In the United States, there have been a few cases of the illness, but it is still relatively rare. Some scientists worry that it could become more common in the near future, partially because of global warming.

Like most other viruses, there is no actual way to cure dengue fever. The illness generally has to run its course. Doctors normally focus on helping patients by relieving symptoms and making sure they receive enough rest and fluid so that their immune systems are able to fight effectively. The most common pharmaceutical treatments are medicines for pain and fever, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

People who develop symptoms of dengue fever only die about 1% of the time, but recovery can be relatively lengthy. The acute period of the illness involving high fever can last as long as two weeks. After the fever goes away, people will generally feel weakened for several more weeks before they recover fully.



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