What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a disease spread to humans by mosquitoes and is caused by one of four types of dengue viruses. Dengue fever occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. All travellers are at risk in areas where dengue occurs.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms commonly appear 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can include:
- Fever (it can last from 3-5 days and rarely more than 7 days)
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Pain behind the eyes
- A faint rash
It is common for some people to show no symptoms and most people recover from dengue fever after a few days.
In a small number of people a more severe form of the disease can occur and can be fatal. Warning signs usually occur 3 to 7 days after the first symptoms and include bleeding from the nose or gums, fatigue, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting and difficulty breathing.
How is dengue fever spread?
Dengue fever is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, particularly the “Aedes aegypti” and “Aedes albopictus” species. These mosquitoes are daytime biters that breed in standing water and often live close to humans in urban areas. All 4 types of dengue viruses are found in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific are the most seriously affected areas.
Between 50 and 100 cases of dengue fever are confirmed every year in Canadian travellers.
How is dengue fever treated?
There is no treatment for dengue fever but medical care can help with recovery and control the symptoms. If you have travelled to an affected area and develop any symptoms that suggest dengue fever, see a health care provider right away. Be sure to tell your health care provider about your recent travel.
How is dengue fever prevented?
There is no vaccine that protects against dengue fever.
Because the mosquitoes that carry dengue fever generally feed in the daytime and are found in both rural and urban areas, travellers should take precautions to protect themselves from bites. Learn more about insect bite prevention.