Dengue fever, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), “is a mosquito-borne viral infection causing a severe flu-like illness and, sometimes causing a potentially lethal complication called severe dengue” (World Health Organization, 2018). The virus responsible for the cause of dengue fever is known as the dengue virus (DEN). DEN is a virus made up of four different strains. Each strain of the virus slightly differs in their genetic makeup which can affect the degree of the disease depending upon which strain a person is infected with (World Health Organization, 2018). Mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes aegypti species, are the vector responsible for transmitting dengue fever to humans (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). The mosquito can carry any one of the four different strains of DEN. Once bitten by a mosquito infected with DEN, the virus is transferred to the human. Dengue fever is common in countries with tropical climates as the rain and humidity create a favorable environment for mosquitoes to live in (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). As reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of dengue fever in the United States were caused by travel to another country. According to WHO, “up to 50-100 million infections are now estimated to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries” (World Health Organization, 2018).
Once a person becomes infected with the virus, symptoms usually begin to appear a week after the virus has been introduced into the body. Dengue fever presents with symptoms that are similar to the flu. A high fever, usually of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, is the main symptom of this disease. Along with this high fever, there are usually two other symptoms. These other symptoms can include a headache, pain behind the eyes, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, muscle and joint pain, or a rash. Once symptoms are present, they can last anywhere from several days to a week. Persons who symptoms continue to progress can develop a life-threatening condition called severe dengue. Severe dengue occurs when the blood in your body is not able to clot due to a low number of platelets which causes bleeding. Symptoms include fatigue, bloody stools, blood in urine or vomit, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, abdominal pain, clammy skin, and difficulty breathing. Treatment for dengue fever is symptomatic, meaning only the symptoms of the disease can be treated but not the disease itself. Some of these treatments include Acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain along with drinking fluids (Mayo Clinic, 2018). There is currently no vaccine available for dengue fever (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). There are however prevention measures that can be taken to help reduce the risk of becoming infected with the virus. As stated on the CDC website, some of these prevention measures include wearing insect repellent long with long sleeve shirts and pants.