Te kirikā dengue Dengue

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Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. It is not usually serious and gets better on its own, although some people may get a more severe type of dengue.

Dengue outbreak in Samoa

How dengue spreads

You cannot catch dengue from another person. You can get dengue if you are bitten by an infected mosquito in an area that has dengue.

Dengue is not common in Aotearoa New Zealand. But it is very common in other more tropical parts of the world such as:

  • parts of Africa and Asia
  • Central and South America
  • the Caribbean
  • the Pacific Islands
  • some southern areas of North America.

Dengue can also be found in some parts of southern Europe.

Symptoms of dengue

Many people with dengue do not have symptoms or only feel a bit unwell. 

If you do have symptoms, they usually start 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They can last from 2 to 7 days.

Symptoms may include:

  • a sudden high temperature (fever)
  • an intense headache
  • pain behind the eyes
  • muscle and joint pain
  • feeling very tired
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • a blotchy rash with flat or slightly raised spots — this can affect large areas of your body.

People with symptoms can sometimes have severe muscle and bone pain similar to the feeling of breaking a bone. Dengue is sometimes called 'breakbone fever'.

Warning signs of severe dengue

A small number of people may get severe dengue within 2 to 5 days of their symptoms starting. With severe dengue, your health rapidly gets worse even though your fever gets better.

People with severe dengue symptoms need to stay in hospital because the disease is life-threatening.

When to get immediate medical care

Diagnosing dengue

If you feel sick in the first 3 weeks after you return home from a country that has dengue, visit your healthcare provider. Tell them about your symptoms and recent travel.

Get medical advice quickly if you have dengue symptoms while you are travelling.

If you are not sure what to do call Healthline for free advice on 0800 611 116

Treating dengue

There is no specific treatment for dengue. Most people get better within a few days while managing their symptoms if they have any.

People with dengue symptoms should drink plenty of fluids and use paracetamol to manage fever and pain.

Do not use nurofen, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medicines as they can increase the risk of bleeding from dengue infection. Speak to your pharmacist or healthcare provider first.

For severe dengue, early diagnosis and proper hospital care lower the risks of death.

Avoiding dengue

There is no vaccine for dengue. Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes if you visit areas with dengue.

Some ways to protect yourself from being bitten by infected mosquitoes include:

  • wearing protective clothing
  • using mosquito repellent
  • staying or sleeping in well screened locations, or under mosquito nets
  • getting rid of or staying away from standing water.

Avoiding insect bites while travelling.

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