Dengue Fever

What is Dengue?

Dengue fever is the most common insect borne viral illness. It is estimated that over 100 million cases of Dengue Fever occur annually on a worldwide basis. It is a condition that occurs in tropical countries of Asia, Africa, central America and South America. It is becoming more common and widespread, with cases now in Florida.

Unfortunately it is also a widespread problem in Singapore (e.g. there have been periods where between 150 to 300 cases per week have been recorded). Countries in South East Asia including Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Northern Australia and Vietnam have very high rates of Dengue.

The illness

Dengue is characterised by an abrupt onset of high fever, severe headache (usually located behind the eyes), and severe back, muscle and joint ache, and abdominal pain. Vomiting is common in the early stages. This may be associated with a fine skin rash after 3-5 days. The condition may last for 10 days to 4 weeks and is usually self limiting.

In some cases a severe form of the disease may occur called Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). This can be fatal and hence the need for early medical diagnosis and management. DHF is more common if you have had Dengue before and in the young. Symptoms include bleeding (gums/nose/skin/gastro intestinal traces). This happens when the platelets (factors in the blood that help in clotting) fall to dangerously low levels.

Most young children do not have symptoms when infected with dengue.

How is Dengue spread?

Dengue is spread most commonly by the mosquito Aedes Aegypti. This mosquito can be found in both urban and rural settings. They tend to be most active during the daytime and can be present indoors.

The breeding sites for the mosquitoes can be small collections of water such as may be contained in an empty can, motor car tyre, the base of a pot plant, a blocked roof gutter or in a natural reservoir (e.g. pooling water resting on vegetation).

The symptoms of the illness usually begin 4-6 days after the Aedes mosquito bite.


  • There is no specific treatment for Dengue
  • Maintaining hydration is important
  • Paracetamol is given for fever
  • Avoid using aspirin and related anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen
  • Regular monitoring of the level of platelets in the blood until they are normal
  • Serious cases need to be hospitalised for intravenous fluids and monitoring


Unfortunately there is no medication or vaccine available to prevent Dengue infection. It is therefore important to undertake insect avoidance measures to decrease your risk.

Please refer to our brochure on insect avoidance measures or discuss this with your doctor.

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