Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called "break-bone" fever because it sometimes causes severe joint and muscle pain that feels like bones are breaking, hence the name. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years.
Dengue fever is found mostly during and shortly after the rainy season in tropical and subtropical areas of
- Southeast Asia and China
- Middle East
- Caribbean and Central and South America
- Australia and the South and Central Pacific
An epidemic in Hawaii in 2001 is a reminder that many locations in the United States are susceptible to dengue epidemics because they harbor the particular types of mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus.
Worldwide, 50 to 100 million cases of dengue infection occur each year. This includes 100 to 200 cases in the United States, mostly in people who have recently traveled abroad. Many more cases likely go unreported because some health care providers do not recognize the disease.
During the last part of the 20th century, many tropical regions of the world saw an increase in dengue cases. Epidemics also occurred more frequently and with more severity. In addition to typical dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome also have increased in many parts of the world. Globally, there are an estimated several hundred thousand cases of DHF per year.
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