What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue Fever is a viral disease that causes fever, headache, eye pain, muscle pain, joint pain, a runny nose, a sore throat, and a rash. In children younger than 15, a more severe Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever can develop and can be fatal. It is caused by one of four viruses and is spread by the same mosquito that causes yellow fever, the aedes aegypti mosquito.
How Does a Person Get Dengue Fever?
The only way to get Dengue Fever is to be bitten by a mosquito that is carrying the virus. The mosquito became infected after biting a person or a monkey who has had the fever for fewer than three days. It takes 8 to 11 days for the disease to incubate in the mosquito. After that, if it bites you, you can catch it. Three to six days after being bitten, the person gets sick. The rash starts on the fifth day.
How Prevalent Is Dengue Fever?
The mosquitoes that spread Dengue Fever live in the tropics and the semi-tropics. Epidemics of the fever tend to occur every 10-40 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Globally, there are 50 million to 100 million cases of Dengue Fever each year. Around 5 percent of the cases prove fatal. The most likely time for an American to catch Dengue Fever is while traveling in an area that has an outbreak.
How Can Dengue Fever Be Prevented?
Currently, there is no Dengue Fever vaccine available, although one is being tested. The only sure way to prevent the disease is to kill the mosquitoes. To be sure, if you are traveling in an area where you are at risk for Dengue Fever, wear mosquito repellent that contains at least 20 percent DEET.