Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and subtropic regions. This area includes parts of:
Indonesian archipelago into northeastern Australia
South and Central America
Some parts of the Caribbean
Dengue fever is being seen more often in world travelers.
Dengue fever should not be confused with Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a separate disease that is caused by the same type of virus, but has much more severe symptoms.
Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 - 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection.
A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 to 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable.
Vaughn DW, Barrett A, Solomon T. Flaviviruses (yellow fever, dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone: 2009:chap 153.
Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.