Dengue Fever

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito ingesting a blood meal.

A female Aedes aegypti mosquito ingesting a blood meal.

Credit: CDC

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. Health experts have known about dengue fever for more than 200 years. 

Why Is the Study of Dengue Fever a Priority for NIAID?

Worldwide, about 50 million cases of dengue infection occur each year, with 22,000 deaths, mostly in children. 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 healthcare providers do not recognize the disease. In the Western hemisphere, the estimated economic burden of dengue is about $2.1 billion per year.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

Recognizing the threat to public health posed by dengue, NIAID is funding nearly 60 dengue research projects, including studies on dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome, the most severe forms of the disease. NIAID research priorities include effective community-based prevention programs, improved laboratory-based international surveillance, rapid diagnostic tests and therapies, and development of and clinical trials for dengue vaccines.

Related Public Health and Government Information

To learn about risk factors for dengue fever and current prevention and treatment strategies visit the MedlinePlus dengue site.

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