Dengue fever - including symptoms treatment and prevention
Dengue fever is an infection caused by dengue viruses, of which there are four different serotypes known to infect humans.
Serotype refers to groups of microorganisms that are extremely closely related, but can be distinguished by having slightly different antigens (a foreign substance which causes the body to produce antibodies) or causing the body to produce slightly different antibodies.
Dengue fever occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, including northern Australia.
Dengue is a notifiable condition1
How dengue fever is spread
In Australia the dengue virus is transmitted by a bite from the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Only the female mosquito transmits the dengue virus. This mosquito is a daytime biter, both inside and outside homes, and is most active in the hours after sunrise and before sunset. Other species of mosquito can transmit the virus but are not presently established in Australia.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes breed inside and outside the home in containers holding water and rarely fly more than 200 metres from the breeding site. They do not breed in creeks, swamps, pools or other bodies of water.
Signs and symptoms of dengue fever
The disease has a sudden onset and symptoms may include:
fever for 3 to 7 days
intense headache and pain behind the eyes
muscle and joint pain
loss of appetite
vomiting and diarrhoea
bleeding, usually from the nose or gums.
Recovery is sometimes associated with prolonged fatigue and depression.
Repeated episodes of dengue fever may result in excessive bleeding and shock but, with appropriate treatment, are rarely fatal.
Diagnosis of dengue fever
Diagnosis of dengue fever is made by clinical presentation and a blood test.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
3 to 14 days, commonly 4 to 7 days.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
A mosquito becomes infected if it bites an infected person while the fever is present (an average period of about 3 to 5 days).
After biting an infected person it takes 8 to 12 days before the mosquito can infect other people.
The mosquito remains infectious for life.
Dengue fever is not directly spread from person-to-person.
Treatment for dengue fever
There is no specific antiviral treatment available.
General recommendations include controlling fever and pain with paracetamol rather than aspirin (aspirin may promote bleeding), and increasing fluid intake. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.
Prevention of dengue fever
Exclusion from childcare, preschool, school or work is usually not necessary but people experiencing fever from dengue infection should not be in an environment where they may be bitten by mosquitoes. If this is not possible they should stay at home until they have no fever and are therefore no longer infectious (usually 3 to 5 days).
There is no vaccine to prevent human infection by this virus.
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.