Dengue fever

Dengue fever

Feb 11th – Dengue fever is a tropical disease endemic to more than 100 countries. Up to a 100 million people are infected each year. The origin of the name Dengue is unknown, but is thought to derive from the Swahili “ka-dinga pepo” (or “disease of the devil”) corrupted to the Spanish word “dengue” which described the “fastidious” gait exhibited by sufferers as they walk. And with good reason: in about 20% of cases, the virus results in rashes, fevers, and head-, muscle-, and joint-aches painful enough to have earned it the nickname “breakbone fever.” In addition, because Dengue virus attacks white blood cells and can compromise platelet production, it can also cause the hemorrhages which distinguish the disease from other tropical afflictions such as malaria and typhoid fever.

Children under 10 years of age and those with impaired immune systems are particularly susceptible to the hemorrhagic form of Dengue fever. The disease is primarily transmitted by the Aedes aegypti “tiger” mosquito, which is active during the day (unlike the malaria-causing Anopheles mosquito which is active at night). But despite efforts to control it from spreading, increases in population and global travel have helped distribute what was once a rare disease around the globe. With an incubation period of approximately 3-14 days, travelers returning home from the tropics can rest easy after a fortnight. But for a third of the world’s population, home is still haunted by this evil spirit. #365DaysOfMicroscopy


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