Dengue fever is a tropical disease that infects over 50-100 million people each year and causes approximately 13,000–25,000 deaths. In 80% of cases few or no symptoms are reported, but in 5% of cases the symptoms are very serious and can become life threatening. The common symptoms include; skin rash, fever, headache and severe muscle and/or joint pain. This pain gave rise to the alternative name for the disease, break-bone fever. In a small number of cases the disease develops into dengue hemorrhagic fever, which causes bleeding, plasma leakage and low platelet count. In other serious cases a condition called dengue shock syndrome occurs, which causes extremely low blood pressure. If you have ever wondered what causes this potentially fatal disease, keep reading to find out.
What causes dengue fever?
Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted through the bite of several different species of mosquitoes. This virus is an RNA virus from the Flaviviridae family of viruses. This family of viruses includes many diseases transferred by mosquitoes and ticks, such as the West Nile Virus and the St. Louis Encephalitis virus. The most common mosquito to transmit the dengue fever virus is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti.
There is no vaccine or cure for dengue fever and the treatment consists of supporting the patient and treating the most severe symptoms. Many vaccines are being tested, but they will not be available to the public until at least 2015. Fortunately, most people recover from the disease without any long lasting problems.
Did you know?
There are four different types of the dengue fever virus and patients with one type retain immunity to that type for life. However, they only have short term immunity from the other 3 types of the virus!
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is also known to pass on Chikungunya, yellow fever, and other diseases.