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What Is Dengue And What Are Its Symptoms?

Dengue (pronounced DENgee) fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. These viruses are related to the viruses that cause West Nile infection and yellow fever.

An estimated 400 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness. Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. It can’t be spread directly from one person to another person.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include

* Sudden, high fever

* Severe headaches

* Pain behind the eyes

* Severe joint and muscle pain

* Fatigue

* Nausea

* Vomiting

* Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever

* Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

Sometimes, symptoms are mild and can be mistaken for those of the flu or another viral infection. Younger children and people who have never had the infection before tend to have milder cases than older children and adults. However, serious problems can develop. These include dengue hemorrhagic fever, a rare complication characterized by high fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, bleeding from the nose and gums, enlargement of the liver, and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death. This is called dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

People with weakened immune systems as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.

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