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Disease Directory

Dengue

What is dengue?
Dengue is an illness caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and pain in the eyes, joints, and muscles. After you are bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms can take up to 2 weeks to develop but usually end in a week. In severe cases, symptoms may include intense stomach pain, repeated vomiting, bleeding from the nose or gums, and death.

Who is at risk?
Travelers who go to tropical and subtropical regionsExternal Web Site Icon are at risk of getting dengue. These areas include parts of the Caribbean, Central and South America Adobe PDF file, Western Pacific Islands, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Africa Adobe PDF file. The mosquito that carries the dengue virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors and often lives around buildings in urban areas. Dengue is not usually seen at altitudes above 4,500 feet (1,500 meters).

What can travelers do to prevent dengue?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent dengue. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

Prevent mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
  • Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
    • DEET (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
    • IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
  • Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
    • Follow package directions when applying repellent on childrenExternal Web Site Icon. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

If you are bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Avoid scratching mosquito bites.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce itching.