Dengue fever is a zoonotic and vector borne disease that is transmitted when a mosquito bites a human or animal with dengue fever in the blood. Also known as “breakbone fever” or “dandy fever”, the disease is not communicable to other humans and is only transmitted by certain types of mosquitoes.
Signs and symptoms of the infection typically develop between four and ten days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Typically, people who have dengue fever exhibit the following symptoms:
- Sudden high fever
- Severe headache
- Pain behind eyes
- Severe muscle and joint pains (which is why dengue fever is also known as “Breakbone fever”).
- Extreme bouts of fatigue
- Occurrences of nausea or vomiting
- Skin rashes (which appear between two to five days after infection)
- Tendency to bleed from the skin or nose, along with bloody stools and/or heavy menstrual bleeding
- Respiratory symptoms, which have been known to include a cough, congested nose, or sore throat
The symptoms can last for up to seven days, after which the fever breaks or worsens depending on the severity of the infection. If a person has had dengue fever in the past, they are more prone to develop severe dengue fever. Severe dengue fever is potentially life-threatening and is referred to as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
The available treatment options will manage the symptoms, however not cure the disease. A person should consult a healthcare provider if they have recently visited dengue endemic countries; including (but not limited to) Thailand, India, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Uganda.
While dengue has not been detected in South Africa, the mosquito vector of dengue fever Aedes aegypti is present in certain regions of South Africa, namely the KwaZulu-Natal coastline.
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