What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a serious complication of dengue infection, a viral infection transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Although dengue infections are rare in the United States, they are a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. Approximately 50 to 100 million infections occur globally each year, of which 500,000 people develop dengue hemorrhagic fever and 22,000 die (Source: WHO).

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Worldwide, most of the cases of dengue infection occur in children. In the continental United States, the majority of cases are in people who have traveled to other countries. The majority of U.S. citizens who have dengue infections live in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Samoa, and Guam. Dengue is endemic in those areas.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is characterized by a fever that lasts from two days to a week and is accompanied by symptoms seen in the milder dengue infection known as dengue fever. These include headache, eye pain, musculoskeletal pain, and easy bleeding or bruising. As the fever goes away, fluid begins to leak from the tiny blood vessels known as capillaries. The fluid can collect in the abdominal cavity or around the lungs. Intravenous fluids are then needed to support the circulatory system.

There are no specific treatments for dengue hemorrhagic fever other than relieving symptoms and replacing fluids and blood as needed.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a life-threatening emergency. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have been to an area where dengue is endemic and you have symptoms such as the sudden onset of a high fever, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting or vomiting blood, bleeding from the nose or gums, red to reddish-purple spots or patches on the skin, stools that are black and tarry, skin that is cold and clammy, and unusual tiredness or irritability. Also seek immediate care for confusion, loss or change in level of consciousness, or seizure.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever?

Initial symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever include high fever, headache, eye pain, musculoskeletal pain, and easy bleeding or bruising. Later symptoms include rash, restlessness, sweating, red to reddish-purple spots or patches on the skin, and cold, clammy skin.... Read more about dengue hemorrhagic feversymptoms

CAUSES

What causes dengue hemorrhagic fever?

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is caused by a dengue virus, specifically known as DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 or DENV-4. The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. There have been reports of transfer of the virus though organ transplants and blood transfusions, as well as transfer from a pregnant mother to her baby, but these cases are rare.... Read more about dengue hemorrhagic fevercauses

TREATMENTS

How is dengue hemorrhagic fever treated?

Currently, no medications are available to treat dengue hemorrhagic fever. The goal of care is to provide comfort and support during the crisis phase of dengue hemorrhagic fever.... Read more about dengue hemorrhagic fevertreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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