Dengue fever – symptoms, treatment and prevention

Dengue is widely spreading and an awareness can help prevent it.

How dengue fever is spread?

Dengue virus is transmitted by a bite from the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Only the female mosquito transmits the dengue virus. This mosquito is a daytime biter, both inside and outside homes, and is most active in the hours after sunrise and before sunset
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes breed inside and outside the home in containers holding water and rarely fly more than 200 metres from the breeding site.

Signs and symptoms

The disease has a sudden onset and symptoms may include:
  • fever for 3 to 7 days
  • intense headache and pain behind the eyes
  • muscle and joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • skin rash
  • bleeding, usually from the nose or gums.
If you see any of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor.


Diagnosis of dengue fever is made by clinical presentation and a blood test.

Infectious period

A mosquito becomes infected if it bites an infected person while the fever is present (an average period of about 3 to 5 days). After biting an infected person it takes 8 to 12 days before the mosquito can infect other people.The mosquito remains infectious for life.Dengue fever is not directly spread from person-to-person.


There is no specific antiviral treatment available. General recommendations include controlling fever and pain with paracetamol rather than aspirin (aspirin may promote bleeding), and increasing fluid intake. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.


  • People experiencing fever from dengue infection should not be in an environment where they may be bitten by mosquitoes. If this is not possible they should stay at home until they have no fever and are therefore no longer infectious (usually 3 to 5 days).
  • There is no vaccine to prevent human infection by this virus.
  • Personal protection and the environmental management of mosquitoes are important in preventing illness.
  • Prevent access of mosquitoes to an infected person with a fever.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times in dengue areas.