An acute and often epidemic disease caused by infection with Arbor B group viruses. (The disease is also known as "breakbone Fever.") It is transmitted to man by the Aedes mosquito and is found throughout the tropics, particularly in the mosquitoes' active season. When symptoms develop, 3 to 15 days after the bite, one of three broad clinical patterns may be seen: classical dengue, a mild atypical form or hemorrhagic fever.

In the classical form, a runny nose or conjunctivitis is followed within hours by a severe headache ("break-bone"), pain behind the eyes, backache, leg and joint pains and depression. The fever may be of a characteristic "saddle back" type: a raised temperature for about 3 days followed by several hours when the symptoms and fever disappear before resuming for another day. During the second phase of fever, swollen glands and a characteristic berry-like rash are frequently present. Classical dengue fever usually lasts only 5 to 6 days and is never fatal. Treatment involves only the relief of symptoms (strong analgesics may be required). The patient commonly feels depressed and tired for several weeks.

The atypical mild form of dengue fever usually lasts less than 72 hours.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever occurs mainly in Southeast Asia, particularly in infants. The initial symptoms are similar to those of the classic fever, but damage to blood vessels leads to more severe problems. Again, treatment can only be supportive (relief of symptoms). Mortality rates of up to 20% have been reported in some epidemics.

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