What is dengue and how is it treated?

Online Q&A
January 2012

Q: What is dengue and how is it treated?

A: Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. There are four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). Symptoms appear in 3–14 days (average 4–7 days) after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults.

There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Severe dengue is a potentially lethal complication but early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by experienced physicians and nurses often save lives.

More than 70% of the disease burden is in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the incidence and severity of disease have increased rapidly in recent years. The African and Eastern Mediterranean regions have also recorded more outbreaks of the disease in the last ten years. In 2010 indigenous transmission of dengue was also reported in two countries of Europe. Urbanization, rapid movement of people and goods, favorable climatic conditions and lack of trained staff have all contributed to the global increase of dengue.

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