Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Aedes mosquitoes also spread chikungunya and Zika viruses.)
Dengue is found in over 110 countries and infects over 500 million people each year. Check our interactive map of mosquito-borne diseases.
Most people infected with the dengue virus won’t show any symptoms but it can lead to serious illness and even death.
There are no vaccines or medicines to treat dengue infection.
How to prevent dengue fever infection
The best way to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito bites. Make sure you are aware of the risk of dengue virus and purchase the necessary equipment before you travel.
Aedes mosquitoes mostly bite during the day, so take extra care during daylight hours. Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants and treat clothing with permethrin as mosquitoes can bite through clothing.
Always use insect repellents on exposed skin. Effective repellents contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
Sleep in air conditioned accommodation or use mosquito nets and check your accommodation for mosquitoes.
Remove any standing water where Aedes mosquitoes can breed. They require only a small amount of water to lay their eggs.
Signs and symptoms
Most people infected with the dengue virus will exhibit no symptoms or may have a low fever and flu-like illness. Symptoms may appear 3 - 14 days after the initial bite.
About 1 in 4 people will suffer symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, pain behind the eyes, severe muscle and joint pain, and a rash or bruising.
A small number of people may suffer from dengue hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms of severe dengue infection develop 24 - 48 hours after the initial fever goes away.
Warning signs of severe infection can include stomach pain, vomiting, bleeding from the nose or gums, blood in vomit or stool, drowsiness, irritability, difficulty breathing or cold and clammy skin. If any of these symptoms appear, visit a doctor or emergency room immediately.
If you become sick after travelling overseas, let your doctor know. They can diagnose dengue infection with a blood test.
Care and treatment
See your doctor.
Drink plenty of fluids and rest.
Take acetaminophen or paracetamol but do not take aspirin or ibuprofen.
Avoid mosquito bites as it could spread to others during the first week of infection.