Dengue Fever (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
What Causes Dengue Fever, and How Is Dengue Fever Transmitted?
Four closely related viruses cause dengue fever. The viruses are transmitted from Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes to humans in a viral life cycle that requires both humans and these mosquitoes. There is no human-to-human dengue fever transmission. Once a mosquito is infected, it remains infected for its life span. A human can infect mosquitoes when the human has a high number of viruses in the blood (right before symptoms develop). The viruses belong to the Flaviviridae family and have an RNA strand as its genetic makeup. Virologists term them dengue virus types 1-4 (DENV 1-4). All four serotypes are closely related. However, there are enough antigenic differences between them that if a person becomes immune to one serotype, the person can still be infected by the other three serotypes.
What Are Dengue Fever Risk Factors?
The risk factors for dengue fever are as follows:
What Are Symptoms and Signs of Dengue Fever?
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The symptoms and signs for dengue begin about three to 15 days (incubation period) after a mosquito bite transfers a virus (dengue virus serotypes 1-4) to a person previously unexposed to the viruses. Fever and painful muscle, bone, and joint aches can occur during the first few hours of symptoms when headache, chills (shivering and/or sweating), rash (may be itchy) and/or red spots or flushing, and swollen lymph nodes first appear. Pain behind or in back of the eyes is also a common symptom. Some individuals may develop a sore throat, vomiting, nausea, abdominal and/or back pain, and loss of appetite. These symptoms usually last about two to four days and then diminish, only to reappear again with a rash that covers the body and spares the face. The rash also may occur on the palms of the hands and the bottom of the feet, areas frequently spared in many viral and bacterial infections. The symptoms may last about one to two weeks with complete recovery, in most cases, in a few weeks. However, some people can develop more severe symptoms and complications, such as hemorrhagic areas in the skin (easy bruising), gums, and the gastrointestinal tract. This condition is termed dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). The majority of DHF is seen in children under 15 years of age, but it can occur in adults. Another clinical variation of dengue fever is termed dengue shock syndrome (DSS); DHF usually precedes DSS. The patients eventually develop severe abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, and blood pressure drops; this syndrome, if not treated quickly, may cause death.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/31/2017
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