Dengue fever : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : O’nyong-nyong fever, Dengue-like disease, Breakbone fever

Definition

Dengue fever is a virus-based disease spread by mosquitoes.

See also: Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Overview, Causes, & 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

Dengue fever is being seen more 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.

Pictures & Images

Mosquito, adult feeding on the skin

There are many different species of mosquito, which can carry some of the world’s most common and significant infectious diseases, including West Nile, Malaria, yellow fever, viral encephalitis, and dengue fever. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

Dengue fever

Dengue fever

Dengue fever, or West Nile fever, is a mild viral illness transmitted by mosquitoes which causes fever, rashes and muscle and joint aches. Treatment includes rehydration and recovery is expected. A second exposure to the virus can result in Dengue hemorrhagic fever, a life-threatening illness.


Review Date : 8/28/2009
Reviewed By : David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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