How to Prevent Getting Dengue Fever

Three Parts:Learning About Dengue FeverReducing Your Exposure to Dengue Infected MosquitoesTreating Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is a disease caused by a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The disease is prevalent in the Caribbean, Central America, and South Central Asia. Symptoms of dengue include fever, severe headache, pain behind the eye (retro-orbital pain), joint and muscle pain, and rash. Sometimes dengue fever is a mild illness, but it can be severe and even cause dengue hemorrhagic (bleeding) fever (DHF) which can be fatal if not treated.

Part 1
Learning About Dengue Fever

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    Recognize the common symptoms of dengue fever. Dengue fever may not cause any noticeable symptoms if it is a mild case. In more severe cases, symptoms will start about four to 10 days after you have been bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of dengue fever include:[1]
    • High fever (up to 106°F or 41.1°C)
    • Headache
    • Muscle, bone, and joint pain
    • Pain behind your eyes
    • Rash
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bleeding from your nose and gums (rare)
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    Understand how dengue fever is transmitted. The Aedes mosquito is the main type of mosquito that spreads dengue fever. Mosquitoes become infected with dengue fever by biting an infected person. The dengue fever is then transmitted to someone else when an infected mosquito bites that person.[2]
    • The virus is active in the blood of the infected person from day one to seven of the fever phase; therefore, anyone who might be in contact with infected patient's blood (such as a doctor or other heath care worker) can be exposed.
    • Dengue fever may spread from an infected pregnant mother to her fetus, so extra care should be taken by pregnant women in areas where the virus may be present.[3]
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    Consider your risk factors. If you live in or travel to a tropical or subtropical region often, you are at a higher risk of contracting dengue fever. You are also at greater risk of contracting dengue fever if you have been infected before. A previous bout of dengue fever also puts you at risk of developing severe symptoms if you are infected a second time.[4]
    • Many tropical countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, South and Central America, northeastern Australia, and Africa. After 56 years of absence, dengue has also resurfaced in Hawaii.[5]

Part 2
Reducing Your Exposure to Dengue Infected Mosquitoes

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    Stay indoors or under a mosquito net during peak mosquito times. The dengue mosquito has two peak periods of biting activity: in the morning for several hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon for several hours before dark. Nevertheless, the mosquito may feed at any time during the day, especially indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast.[6]
    • Make sure that you sleep indoors in a screened or air conditioned building or that you sleep under a mosquito net (or both).[7][8]
    • Make sure screens do not have holes or any openings.
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    Use insect repellent when outdoors. It is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites when you will be spending time outdoors in mosquito infested areas. Apply insect repellent to all exposed areas of your skin before heading outside.[9]
    • For adults and children over two months of age, use a repellant that contains 10% DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide).[10]
    • Protect infants less than two months of age by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
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    Cover your skin. You can reduce your chances of being bitten if you cover up as much of your skin as possible. Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, socks, and long pants when you will be traveling to mosquito infested areas.[11]
    • You can also spray your clothing with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent for greater protection. (Remember: don't use permethrin on skin.)[12]
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    Get rid of standing water in your area. Mosquitos breed in standing water. Mosquito breeding sites include artificial water containers such as discarded tires, uncovered water storage barrels, buckets, flower vases or pots, cans, and cisterns. Help to reduce the mosquito population in your area by getting rid of any standing water that has collected around your house or campsite.[13]

Part 3
Treating Dengue Fever

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    See a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect that you have dengue fever. If you develop a fever after visiting a region where dengue fever is common, seek medical attention right away to increase your chances of survival. If your symptoms become severe, you may require blood pressure monitoring, blood transfusions, and other interventions that must be administered by medical professionals.[14]
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    Know that there is no cure for dengue fever. Although multiple vaccines are being researched, there is no cure for dengue fever. If you survive the illness, you will be immune to the strain with which you were infected; however, you will still be able to contract one of the other three strains.[15]
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    Stay hydrated. Dengue fever can cause diarrhea and vomiting, which can cause dehydration; therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water if you contract dengue fever. Your doctor may administer IV fluids to keep you hydrated as well.[16]
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    Reduce pain. Acetaminophen is recommended for pain associated with dengue fever because it can help reduce your fever as well. Acetaminophen is also less likely to increase bleeding than NSAID pain relievers. Bleeding can occur if you develop severe symptoms of dengue fever.[17]


  • Remember that no vaccine is available to prevent dengue, and there is no specific medicine to cure people who are sick with dengue, so it is important to protect yourself against mosquito bites if you live in or will be traveling to an area where dengue fever is common.
  • Anyone who is sick after traveling should be sure to inform his or her healthcare provider so that they can look for diseases that might be endemic to the area recently traveled, including dengue fever.

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Categories: Insect Borne Diseases