Dengue is a viral infection which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms of dengue include the abrupt onset of fever, shivering, severe headache (especially behind the eyes), and often characteristic muscle and joint pains. This is why it is also known as ‘breakbone fever’. People with dengue generally get better on their own and recover within a few days, but in some cases, the infection develops into severe dengue. This is called dengue hemorrhagic fever and can become life-threatening if not treated.
Dengue occurs in all tropical regions and especially in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Africa. Every year, more than two billion people from 100 countries are at risk of infection.
The infection is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, in particular the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). These mosquitoes bite during daylight hours and can also transmit the chikungunya and Zika viruses. These mosquitoes are found in areas close to human habitation. They breed in water-filled containers such as old car tires, empty cans, barrels, buckets, flower vases, gutters, etc.
There are two types of infection. Dengue fever is a flu-like illness, with symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pains, and red skin rashes. Nausea and vomiting may also occur. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is the more severe type. In those cases, bruising, bleeding nose or gums, restlessness, and thirst will then occur, in addition to the symptoms already mentioned. Furthermore, hemorrhage and shock can occur. This can be fatal. Dengue hemorrhagic fever with shock occurs almost exclusively in travelers who have previously had dengue.
A vaccine against dengue has been on the Dutch market since April 2023. And as of 1 May, it is also available at Travel Clinic Erasmus MC. The vaccine is particularly important for people who have already had dengue and are traveling to endemic regions. Reinfection with the virus increases the risk of serious complications and as yet no drugs are effective against the disease.Read more