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Dengue Fever

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How is it treated?

There is no medicine for treating dengue fever. Mild cases may be treated at home with rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. You may take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain. But don't take anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (such as Aleve). They may increase the risk of bleeding. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. People with mild cases of dengue fever usually feel better within 2 weeks.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever, the more serious form of dengue fever, usually requires treatment in a hospital. You may need intravenous (IV) fluids to treat dehydration. You also may need a blood transfusion to replace lost blood. You will be closely watched for signs of shock.

How can you prevent dengue fever?

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue fever. And people who have had it before can get it again. If you plan to travel to an area where dengue fever is common, make sure to protect yourself against mosquito bites. Here are some guidelines:

  • Wear protective clothing (long pants and long-sleeved shirts).
  • Use insect repellent with DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide). The repellent is available in varying strengths up to 100%. For young children, use a product containing less than 24% strength, otherwise too much of the chemical can be absorbed through the child's skin.
  • Spray clothing with an insect repellent containing permethrin or DEET, because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. (Be aware that DEET can damage plastic items, such as watch crystals or eyeglass frames, and some synthetic fabrics.)
  • Sleep under bed nets (mosquito netting) sprayed with or soaked in an insecticide such as permethrin or deltamethrin.
  • Use flying-insect spray indoors around sleeping areas.

The most current information about dengue fever is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). If you are planning international travel, you can learn about the risk of dengue fever in the area you're traveling to by contacting:

  • The CDC at its toll-free phone number (1-800-232-4636) or website (www.cdc.gov/dengue).
  • Your doctor or local health department.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 27, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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