Dengue: What is it? Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Dengue fever is a viral disease that has garnered significant attention due to its global prevalence and potential severity. This disease is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes species. This article aims to provide an understanding of dengue fever, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Understanding the Disease

Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus which belongs to the Flavivirus genus, part of the Flaviviridae family. Four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus have been identified, namely DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. These serotypes highlight the wide genetic variability of the virus.

The disease can manifest in two distinct clinical forms:

  1. Classical Dengue: This is the benign form of the disease. Symptoms include an increase in body temperature, headache, pain around and behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal disorders.

  2. Hemorrhagic Dengue: This is a severe and potentially lethal form of the disease, characterized by low platelet count, hemorrhagic manifestations, and loss of fluids, which can cause a state of shock, known as dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

Transmission of Dengue

Dengue is transmitted through the bite of an infected female mosquito, primarily the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species. These mosquitoes bite during daylight hours, especially after dawn and before sunset.

The virus is not transmitted directly from person to person. Instead, the mosquitoes contract the virus by biting infected humans or animals and remain carriers of dengue throughout their life cycle. The transmission cycle is thus often described as human-mosquito-human.

Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of dengue fever usually appear 3-15 days after the infected mosquito bite. In classical dengue, symptoms persist for 48 to 96 hours, followed by a period of apparent well-being lasting approximately 24 hours. In hemorrhagic dengue, thrombocytopenia, fluid depletion, and hemorrhagic manifestations develop, which can lead to a state of shock if left untreated.


The diagnosis of dengue is usually made based on the symptoms but can be confirmed by isolating the viral agent and identifying anti-dengue IgM antibodies in blood samples. Diagnostic tests include serological tests (ELISA) and reverse transcription with polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Differential diagnosis is necessary to distinguish dengue from other diseases with similar symptoms like malaria, leptospirosis, and typhoid fever.


There are no specific antiviral drugs available for dengue virus infection. The treatment is supportive and mainly involves controlling and alleviating symptoms. Management is based on hydration and rest in mild to moderate cases, while severe cases may require intravenous administration of fluids and blood transfusion. Certain fever-reducing drugs should be avoided as they could favor the appearance of hemorrhagic manifestations.


Prevention of dengue primarily involves avoiding mosquito bites in endemic areas by using repellents, wearing protective clothing, and applying mosquito nets over beds, doors, and windows. Further measures include reducing sites that support vector reproduction and implementing periodic disinfestation interventions.

For travelers to endemic areas, it is important to use insect repellent on exposed skin, wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, use mosquito nets, and prevent the formation of stagnant water to prevent mosquito proliferation.


Currently, no universally authorized vaccine is available to prevent dengue virus infection. However, in some countries where the disease is endemic, a vaccine has been registered for use in people aged 9-45 years. The vaccine is recommended for use only in areas where dengue is endemic, and among populations where seroprevalence indicates a significant percentage of the community has been exposed to the virus previously.

In summary, understanding dengue fever, its transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention is crucial to effectively manage and control the disease. It's important to remember that prevention is the most effective measure against dengue, and everyone should take necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites, especially in endemic areas.

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The Wellyme Team

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