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What is Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

Dengue fever is a common mosquito-borne illness in many tropical and subtropical countries. One study estimated that 50 million infections occur every year. Symptoms can be mild and include:

  • fever
  • rash
  • muscle and joint pain

Mosquitoes become infected with the dengue virus when they bite infected people, and then spread it when they bite another person. Most cases of the dengue virus are caused when a mosquito bites someone, but you can get the virus if you are exposed to infected blood.

Dengue virus rarely causes death. However, the infection can progress into a more serious condition known as severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever include:

  • bleeding under the skin
  • frequent vomiting
  • abdominal pain

The more severe symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever often develop after you start to recover from the dengue virus.

What Causes Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever?

Dengue hemorrhagic fever can occur when someone is bitten by a mosquito or exposed to blood infected with the dengue virus. Infected mosquitoes are the most common causes.

There are four different types of the dengue virus. Once you are infected with one of the viruses, you develop immunity to that virus for the rest of your life. However, this immunity will not protect you from the other viruses. It is possible to be infected with all four different types of the dengue virus in your lifetime.

Repeated exposure to the dengue virus can make it more likely that you will develop dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Who Is at High Risk for Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever?

Living in or traveling to Southeast Asia, South and Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of the Caribbean can increase your risk of contracting the dengue virus. Other people at higher risk include:

  • infants and small children
  • pregnant women (the virus may be passed from mother to fetus)
  • older adults
  • those with compromised immune systems

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