Symptoms of Dengue fever


General information about symptoms of Dengue fever: The symptom information on this page attempts to provide a list of some possible symptoms of Dengue fever. This symptom information has been gathered from various sources, may not be fully accurate, and may not be the full list of symptoms of Dengue fever. Furthermore, symptoms of Dengue fever may vary on an individual basis for each patient. Only your doctor can provide adequate diagnosis of symptoms and whether they are indeed symptoms of Dengue fever.

List of symptoms of Dengue fever: The list of symptoms mentioned in various sources for Dengue fever includes:

Symptoms of Dengue fever: Symptoms of typical uncomplicated dengue usually start with fever within 5 to 6 days after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito.

  • High fever, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Severe headache
  • Retro-orbital (behind the eye) pain
  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash

The rash may appear over most of the body 3 to 4 days after the fever begins. A second rash may appear later in the disease.

Interestingly, most children infected with dengue virus never develop typical symptoms.


A doctor or other health care worker can diagnose dengue fever by doing a blood test. The test can show whether the blood sample contains dengue virus or antibodies to the virus. In epidemics, dengue is often clinically diagnosed by typical signs and symptoms.


There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, and most people recover completely within 2 weeks. To help with recovery, health care experts recommend

  • Getting plenty of bed rest.
  • Drinking lots of fluids.
  • Taking medicine to reduce fever.

CDC advises people with dengue fever not to take aspirin. Acetaminophen or other over-the-counter pain-reducing medicines are safe for most people.


The best way to prevent dengue fever is to take special precautions to avoid contact with mosquitoes. Several dengue vaccines are being developed, but none is likely to be licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the next few years.

When outdoors in an area where dengue fever has been found,

  • Use a mosquito repellant containing DEET.
  • Dress in protective clothingólong-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes.

Because Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, be sure to use precautions especially during early morning hours before daybreak and in the late afternoon before dark.

Other precautions include

  • Keep unscreened windows and doors closed.
  • Keep window and door screens repaired.
  • Get rid of areas where mosquitoes breed, such as standing water in flower pots or discarded tires.


Most people who develop dengue fever recover completely within two weeks. Some, however, may go through several weeks of feeling tired and/or depressed.

Others develop severe bleeding problems. This complication, dengue hemorrhagic fever, is a very serious illness which can lead to shock (very low blood pressure) and is sometimes fatal, especially in children and young adults.


Scientists supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) are trying to develop a vaccine against dengue by modifying an existing vaccine for yellow fever. Researchers in NIAID laboratories in Bethesda, Maryland, are using weakened and harmless versions of dengue viruses as potential vaccine candidates against dengue and related viruses.

Other researchers supported by NIAID are investigating ways to prevent dengue viruses from reproducing inside mosquitoes.

Because dengue virus has only recently emerged as a growing global threat, scientists know little about how the virus infects cells and causes disease. New research is beginning to shed light on how the virus interacts with humans ó how it damages cells and how the human immune system responds to dengue virus invasion.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30333

U.S. National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894

World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
41-22-791-21-11 1

Infection with dengue viruses produces a spectrum of clinical illness ranging from a nonspecific viral syndrome to severe and fatal hemorrhagic disease. Important risk factors for DHF include the strain and serotype of the infecting virus, as well as the age, immune status, and genetic predisposition of the patient. 2

The principal symptoms of dengue are high fever, severe headache, backache, joint pains, nausea and vomiting, eye pain, and rash. Generally, younger children have a milder illness than older children and adults. 3

Dengue fever may begin suddenly. Symptoms usually include high fever, severe headache, and joint and muscle pain. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite are also common. A rash may appear 3 to 4 days after the fever begins and may spread from the torso to the arms, legs, and face. These early symptoms do not usually last more than 7 days and dengue does not produce long-term health effects. Because of the incubation period, travelers may not become ill until arriving home.4

Classic dengue fever is characterized by acute onset of high fever, frontal headache, retro-orbital pain, myalgias, arthralgias, nausea, vomiting, and often a maculopapular rash. In addition, many patients may notice a change in taste sensation. Symptoms tend to be milder in children than in adults, and the illness may be clinically indistinguishable from influenza, measles, or rubella. The disease manifestations can range in intensity from inapparent illness to the symptoms described.5

More symptoms of Dengue fever: In addition to the above information, to get a full picture of the possible symptoms of this condition and its related conditions, it may be necessary to examine symptoms that may be caused by complications of Dengue fever, underlying causes of Dengue fever, associated conditions for Dengue fever, risk factors for Dengue fever, or other related conditions.

Medical articles on symptoms: These general reference articles may be of interest:

1. excerpt from Dengue Fever: NIAID
2. excerpt from CDC Dengue Fever Home Page: DVBID
3. excerpt from Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever: Questions and Answers: DVBID
4. excerpt from Spotlight on: Preventing Dengue and Dengue Hemmorhagic Fever: DVBID
5. excerpt from Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever: Information for Health Care Practitioners: DVBID

Last revision: May 27, 2003

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