Dengue

Dengue is an infection caused by the dengue virus of which there are four different types (serogroups). The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that spread dengue usually breed in urban areas close to human habitation and are most active during daylight hours. Although unpleasant, dengue is usually a self-limiting illness. However a small, but significant, number of people can develop more severe, life-threatening infection.

The disease is common in the tropics. Affected areas include the Caribbean, South and Central America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Although less common, outbreaks are increasingly being reported outside tropical areas, including in Europe, with locally acquired cases reported in Croatia, France and Madeira. Dengue does not occur naturally in the United Kingdom (UK), it is a travel-associated infection. Cases of dengue in UK travellers are increasing, with most reported in travellers who visited Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. Country-specific information on dengue is available on our Country Information pages and current dengue outbreaks are listed on our Outbreak Surveillance section.

All travellers to dengue endemic countries are at risk of dengue infection. The chance of contracting dengue is determined by several factors, including destination, length of exposure and season of travel. Risk is thought to be higher during periods of intense mosquito feeding activity (two to three hours after dawn and during the early evening) Travellers, who spend long periods in areas where dengue is common, are at increased risk, but even short-term visitors can be infected.

Most people infected with dengue remain symptom-free. If symptoms do occur, the illness usually begins abruptly with a high fever, and is often accompanied by a severe headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash. Most infections are self-limiting, with a rapid recovery three to four days after the rash appears.

A small number of people develop more severe illness with symptoms which can include dangerously low blood pressure (shock), fluid build-up in the lungs and severe bleeding. There is no specific drug treatment for severe dengue illness, although hospital admission and careful management of fever, fluid balance and pain can help with recovery. If left untreated, severe dengue illness can be fatal.

Prevention

Travellers can check our Country Information pages for information on the risk of dengue at their destination. Mosquito bite avoidance is recommended. As dengue is spread by day-biting mosquitoes, particular care with bite avoidance is advised during the day, especially around dawn and dusk. As of January 2023, a new vaccine Qdenga® has been licensed in the UK for the prevention of dengue disease in individuals from 4 years of age. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) are in the process of reviewing the product information. Recommendations on the use of this vaccine will be published in due course.

Resources

First published : 22 November 2018 Last updated : 04 February 2023

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Recent News on Dengue

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Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) deliberations on Qdenga® vaccine now available

Updated: 21 March 2024

Dengue: the Caribbean region

An increase in cases of dengue have been reported in the Caribbean region

Updated: 06 February 2024

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Recent Dengue Outbreaks

03 April 2024

Dengue in Argentina

Between 1 January and 25 March 2024, a total of 163,419 confirmed cases of dengue have been reported from Argentina. This reflects a six times greater number of cases compared to the previous season.

1
Take usual precautions

05 March 2024

Dengue in Brazil

As of 4 March 2024, a total of 1,212,263 probable cases of dengue have been reported since the start of the year. Distrito Federal reports the highest incidence rates with 4,174 probable cases per 100,000 population.

2
Take usual precautions

28 February 2024

Dengue in Mexico

As of 27 February 2024, during the first seven weeks of 2024, the Ministry of Health, Mexico have reported 5,439 dengue cases, which is a 468% increase compared to the equivalent 2023 period (958 cases). 74% of cases are concentrated within Guerrero, Tabasco, Quintana Roo, Veracruz y Colima states.

Take usual precautions

16 February 2024

Dengue in Mauritius

Between 16 January and 10 February 2024, there have been 458 new confirmed cases and two new deaths from dengue. Cumulatively 498 cases of dengue and two deaths have been reported from 11 regions. 91% of the new cases were reported from Port-Louis and Northern regions.

Take usual precautions