Dengue fever is a disease common to tropical areas, including popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The virus that produces dengue is easily contracted and produces a short bout with fever and illness that can be so severe as to be potentially lethal. There is also no vaccine for dengue, so a thorough education about the disease is necessary before embarking to dengue-bearing areas.
Dengue fever is found in tropical countries such as Bangladesh, Brazil, Guyana, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Venezuela and Vietnam. It is found in places where malaria is also common, but unlike malaria can be found just as often in urban as in rural areas.
Dengue symptoms include severe headaches and muscle pains (the joint pains associated with dengue have given it the nickname "breakbone" fever); red skin rashes and high fever. Abdominal problems can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mild cases are frequently misdiagnosed as influenza.
The typical bout with dengue lasts for a week, being punctuated by a spike in fever toward the end.
Dengue is caused by a virus that is transmitted most often by the day-feeding mosquito breed Aedes aegypti. This mosquito also transmits yellow fever.
One of the worst things about dengue is that there is no vaccine available. The only preventative measures revolve around mosquito control. On a health policy level, education about mosquito breeding and insecticide use are common dengue prevention measures. On a personal level, the use of insect repellent and mosquito netting, to prevent bites and therefore transmission, are also effective in reducing the odds of infection.