Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes.
It is widespread in many parts of the world.
The infection is usually mild and passes after about 1 week without causing any lasting problems.
But in rare cases it can be very serious and potentially life threatening.
There is no specific treatment or widely available vaccine for dengue, so it is important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when visiting an area where the infection is found.
Symptoms of dengue
Symptoms of dengue usually develop suddenly, about 5 to 8 days after you become infected.
Symptoms can include:
- a high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery
- a severe headache
- pain behind the eyes
- muscle and joint pain
- feeling or being sick
- a widespread red rash
- tummy pain and loss of appetite
The symptoms normally pass after about 1 week, although you may feel tired and slightly unwell for several weeks afterwards.
In rare cases severe dengue can develop after the initial symptoms.
When to get medical advice
See your doctor if you develop a fever or flu like symptoms up to 2 weeks after visiting an area where the dengue virus is found.
Remember to tell the nurse or doctor where you have been travelling.
Go to a doctor or hospital if you develop symptoms while travelling or living in an area where dengue is common.
There is little a doctor can do to help you recover, but it is important to get a proper diagnosis in case there is another cause of your symptoms.
You may need a blood test to confirm that you have dengue.
Treatment for dengue
There is no cure or specific treatment for dengue.
You can only relieve the symptoms until the infection has gone.
You can usually look after yourself at home.
The following may help:
- take paracetamol to relieve pain and fever.
- Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, as these can cause bleeding problems in people with dengue
- drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration if you are currently abroad, only drink bottled water from a bottle that was properly sealed
- get plenty of rest
You should start to feel better after about 1 week, although it may be a few weeks before you feel your normal self again. Get medical advice if your symptoms do not improve.
Where dengue is found
It usually happen to people who recently travelled to an area where the virus is common.
Dengue is found in parts of:
- Southeast Asia
- the Caribbean
- the Indian subcontinent
- South and Central America
- the Pacific Islands