Dengue (dandy fever)

Dengue is a virus infection caused by a mosquito bite. It was quite rare in the past but since the Second World War the disease has been spreading quickly across all tropical and subtropical regions.

How do you catch dengue?

The dengue virus is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito (tiger mosquito). This mosquito broods in stagnant water that collects in objects found in a domestic environment, such as old car tyres, tins, buckets and vases. The dengue mosquito is predominantly active during the day, mainly in the morning and evening hours.

Where can I catch dengue?

Dengue can be caught mainly to the tropical regions of Asia, the islands of the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean islands, Central and South America, and Africa. Cases have also been reported in Mexico, southern Texas and north-eastern Australia. The risk of dengue is greatest in highly urbanised regions, and less pronounced in rural areas. Dengue epidemics occur mainly during the weeks following the monsoons.

What are the symptoms?

Dengue is similar to the flu and is primarily characterised by a (high) fever. It has a short incubation time (the time between being bitten by the infected mosquito and the manifestation of the first symptoms) averaging between about five to seven days.

The general symptoms of dengue are:

  • a sudden and rapidly rising fever (up to 40 °C or higher), often preceded by shivering
  • headache and pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital pain)
  • muscle-, bone- and joint-aches
  • after a few days, nausea and vomiting, sore throat, coughing and a rash
  • in most cases dengue is not serious and will clear up after about seven days
  • however, some people can feel exhausted for several weeks or even months afterwards

How can you avoid catching dengue?

There is no vaccine against dengue so your only form of defence is to ensure you are not bitten. The dengue mosquito is active throughout the day, but bites mainly in the early morning after sunrise, and in the evening behore sunset.

Check which insect repelling measures you can take.