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Dengue Fever: Common Questions Answered

Published on Aug 22, 2017 and last reviewed on Jan 24, 2022   -  4 min read


Dengue fever is a self-limiting mosquito-borne viral illness that has taken a massive toll on public health. Read below and get to know the answers to the common questions about dengue fever.

Dengue Fever: Common Questions Answered

1. What Is Dengue Fever?

It is a mosquito-borne viral illness that belongs to the flavivirus genus. It is usually a self-limiting disease that may manifest as asymptomatic (without any symptoms) to severe dengue.

2. Can Dengue Fever Recur?

Dengue fever has four serotypes DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3, and DEN 4. Although they are similar to each other, they do not provide cross-protection. Recovery from one type of dengue infection offers lifelong immunity, so there is always a risk of recurrence.

3. Is the Second Attack of Dengue Fever More Dangerous?

Yes, it has been observed that there is an exaggerated immune response during a second attack, thus increasing the chances of severe dengue.

4. What Are the Typical Clinical Symptoms?

Dengue fever commonly causes fever with body aches, which may be moderate to severe. It may present with flu-like symptoms and rashes, headache, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may progress to severe dengue in some patients, presenting with abnormal bleeding tendencies. That is why it is also called 'breakbone fever.'

5. How Does It Spread From One Person to Another?

It is a mosquito-borne viral illness, and the vector is the Aedes mosquito. A fever typically occurs three to seven days after the mosquito bite.

6. Is Dengue Fever Contagious?

Dengue fever is not contagious, meaning that it cannot spread from one person to another through physical contact like touching, speaking, sharing personal items, etc. The bite of a mosquito can only spread it. As mosquitoes transmit it, our efforts should stop the breeding of mosquitoes. Aedes mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. So, we should try to minimize the stagnation of water. The use of mosquito repellents, bed nets, and full-sleeved clothing, may provide personal protection.

7. Are There Any Anti-dengue Drugs or Vaccines?

No. There has been extensive research and clinical trials for vaccines, and the preliminary reports are encouraging. At present, there are no such vaccines or approved antivirals available against dengue fever.

8. Can Antibiotics Treat Dengue Fever?

Since dengue fever is a viral disease, antibiotics are not effective in treating and are not recommended.

9. How to Increase the Platelet Count?

Dengue fever is a self-limiting infection, and the platelet count usually starts falling on day three of fever, and a spontaneous rising trend is noted from day six of fever. Various other conditions also present with flu-like symptoms or a low platelet count. For example, immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), vitamin B12 deficiency, etc. So, it is essential that they are differentiated and managed accordingly.

10. What Are the Tests to Diagnose Dengue Fever?

For the first five days of fever, dengue NS1 antigen test and dengue RT-PCR can be done. After five days, dengue IgM (Immunoglobulin M) and dengue IgG (Immunoglobulin G) can be done.

11. Can Dengue Fever Be Managed at Home?

Yes, mild cases of dengue fever without the warning signs can be managed at home. But, they must consult a physician and take proper advice. The general recommendation is to drink plenty of fluids, take a soft diet, and take Paracetamol tablets in case of fever. Avoid Aspirin and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

12. What Are the Warning Signs of Dengue?

Warning signs are breathlessness, severe pain in the abdomen, persistent vomiting, abnormal bleeding, altered sensorium, and a rapid fall in the platelet count. If any of these signs are present, you must visit a hospital immediately for further management.

13. What Does an Antibody Test for Dengue Fever Indicate?

Two antibodies namely, IgG and IgM, are detected in an antibody test taken for dengue fever. If the IgM antibody is positive and the IgG antibody is negative, then it denotes a recent infection of dengue. In contrast, if IgG is positive and IgM is negative or positive, it indicates a past condition.

14. Is Dengue Fever a Life-Threatening Disease?

Dengue fever is often an excruciatingly painful condition, but it is not a deadly disease when proper treatment is sought. Only with the development of severe complications like dengue shock syndrome (DSS) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), are there chances of death. Even such patients can survive with proper treatment. The mortality rate is very minimal in the case of dengue fever.

15. Does Dengue Fever in Pregnant Women Affect the Developing Fetus?

Although there are fewer reports of transmission of dengue fever to the developing fetus, when it occurs, it can bring about complications in pregnancy like fetal distress, premature delivery, and low birth weight.

16. How to Monitor the Progress of Dengue Fever?

Blood pressure and other vital parameters need to be often checked. Platelet count and hematocrit (PCV) values should frequently be monitored among the laboratory parameters. The mean platelet volume and immature platelet fraction may give a fair idea about the rise of platelet count.

17. Are Goat Milk, Papaya Leaves, and Kiwi Fruit Effective in Increasing the Platelet Count?

Platelets increase on their own, and there is no scientific research data to support such claims. It is a myth.

18. When Does Dengue Outbreak Occur?

Dengue fever outbreaks are often seen after the rains and peak from August to October. It is usually the time when it is adequate for the Aedes mosquito to breed.

19. Which Mosquito Repellents Are Safe to Use?

Mosquito repellants which contain Picaridin or DEET (diethyltoluamide or diethyl-methyl benzamide) are safe to be used. Do check the safety label before using a mosquito repellant. Repellents containing PMD (para-menthane-3,8-diol) or (OLE) oil of lemon eucalyptus are not recommended in children.

20. What Are the Characteristic Features of the Aedes Mosquito?

The Aedes mosquito breeds in stagnant water and bites daily, most often from 7 AM to 11 AM. It is primarily found in urban areas, in and around human dwellings. It most commonly bites below the elbows and the knees. That is the reason full-sleeved clothing is recommended.


When you live in endemic areas where dengue fever is prevalent, take all precautionary measures to prevent the occurrence of dengue fever. Dengue fever can be best treated when treatment is sought at the correct time. If you experience any symptoms of dengue fever, do reach out to a healthcare provider at the earliest. Also, preventing dengue fever is possible by containing mosquito breeding areas and avoiding the bite of mosquitoes.

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Last reviewed at:
24 Jan 2022  -  4 min read




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