At a time when we seem to hear only about COVID 19, it is easy to forget about other diseases that have had, and will continue to have, far more impact on the human population. Unfortunately, those diseases, such as dengue, are not going to just go away for our own convenience. In the last couple of weeks, dengue has made the news for several reasons.

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is a viral infection that is carried by the Aedes mosquito. This is a disease that can be caused by any one of the four related dengue viruses. Often, dengue is also known as the break-bone fever because it affects the muscles and bones of the patient severely, causing a pain that feels almost like the breaking of bones. This disease affects people in many countries across the world, especially in South-East Asia, India, China, Africa, and Central America.

Causes of Dengue Fever:

There are four distinct serotypes of the dengue virus (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). The transfer of one of them via the female mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is the main cause of dengue. In rare cases, the virus can be spread via the white-striped body Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

Methods of Disease Transmission:

It is transmitted from one person to another by the bites of Aedes aegypti mosquitos that generally acquire the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person. The mosquito then can transmit the virus while biting a healthy person and feeding on his blood.  Patients who are already infected with the dengue virus can transmit the infection via the mosquitoes after the first symptoms appear during 4-5 days (up to 7 days). 

Aedes aegypti Mosquito:

  • It is a dark-colored mosquito with white markings on its legs and white dots on its body.

  • The mosquito is not the main cause of the disease, but is just a vector for transmitting the virus form one person to another.

  • Within the mosquito, the virus infects the mosquito mid-gut and subsequently spreads to the salivary glands over an incubation period of 8-12 days, and then can transmit the disease for the rest of its life.

  • The peak periods for mosquito bites are early morning and before sunset. 

  • Every time a female mosquito needs food, it will bite several people.

Incubation Period:

Symptoms begin to appear 4-10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito.


Dengue causes flu-like symptoms and infection is suspected with high fever (above 40°C) and at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Severe joint and muscle pain

  • High fever up to 105 F

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Severe headaches

  • The entire body gets covered in red rashes

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

  • Rash