Penn Travel Medicine






Insect-borne Diseases


Yellow Fever

Traveler's Diarrhea


(See the World Health Organization's web site for a map of countries with moderate to high risk of infection)

Dengue presents an extreme risk to travelers in the tropics and sub-tropics, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, its global distribution is comparable to that of malaria. A small risk of dengue also exists in the southeastern part of the U.S. The risk of infection is higher in urban areas, and limited to altitudes below 600 m (2000 ft.).

Dengue is caused by any one of four distinct virus strains transmitted through the bite of Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito that transmits yellow fever. This mosquito bites during the day. Infection with one strain does not produce immunity to other strains, and people can have four dengue infections in their lifetime.

Symptoms of dengue include a sudden, high fever (which may occur in two waves), accompanied by extreme muscle pain and headache. A rash develops three to four days after initial symptoms appear. The symptoms can continue for several days and the only treatment is bed rest and fluids, with fever-reducing medication. This form of dengue is not life threatening.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is another form of dengue but far more dangerous, as it causes uncontrolled internal bleeding and has a 5 percent fatality rate. On rare occasions, dengue shock syndrome occurs as a result of DHF, with a fatality rate of up to 50 percent if it is not treated immediately.

There is no vaccine against dengue and no available medicine to prevent or treat it. The only defense against dengue and DHF is avoiding mosquito bites.


Need an appointment? Request one online 24 hours/day, 7 days/week or call 610-902-5618.

Related Links
Find a Travel Medicine Specialist
Request an Appointment Online or call 610-902-5618
Encyclopedia Articles about Travel Medicine




About Penn Medicine   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

Penn Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 800-789-PENN © 2014, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania space