What is it?

It´s an infectious febrile disease caused by a subtype of a virus called Arbovirus.

How is it acquired? The disease is transmitted by the sting of a mosquito of the genus Aedes. It isn´t transmitted by direct contact from person to person, nor by water or food.

What does one experience?

The symptoms show up on average five to six days after the contaminated mosquito´s sting. The mildest form of the disease begins with high fever of sudden onset, headache, body aches, weakness, absence of appetite, sore eyes, nausea, vomiting, itching, rashes in the body, bellyache and some bleeding. The symptoms last up to one week, when the patient starts to feel better.

The most severe form of the disease, called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, begins the same way as the mild form, but the evolution is shown to be more severe, with dehydration, coma, shock, bleeding, and abrupt decline in body temperature. The duration of the symptoms is rapid, and it may evolve to death or quick recovery.

How is the diagnosis made?

By means of the clinical history, blood tests, which indicate the disease severity, and specific exams for isolation of the virus in cultures.

How is it treated?

There is no specific drug for the disease, only the patient´s symptoms are treated, with hydration and management of the complications caused by bleeding of organs.

How is it prevented?

The main preventive procedure is the fight against the mosquito that transmits the disease. Environmental sanitation and educational measures are necessary to decrease the number of sites where the mosquitoes´ larvae grow, such as vases of plants, puddles, old tires. The infested areas are treated with insecticides.

From 1991 to 2000, cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever have been reported in more than nine Brazilian states. The trend is towards growth and expansion of the areas of virus circulation owing to the spreading of the transmitting mosquito, increasingly present in a large number of cities.