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Volume 12, Number 6—June 2006


Etymologia: dengue

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An acute, self-limited disease characterized by fever, headache, myalgia, and rash caused by any of 4 related but distinct viruses of the genus Flavivirus and spread by Aedes mosquitos. Dengue (a Spanish homonym for the Swahili ki denga pepo, which describes a sudden, cramplike seizure caused by an evil spirit) is believed to have been first recorded in a Chinese medical encyclopedia from the Chin Dynasty (265–420 AD). The Chinese called dengue “water poison” and knew that it was somehow associated with flying insects.

Sources: Dorland’s illustrated medical dictionary. 30th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2003; Gubler DJ. Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1998;11:480–96; and Halstead SB. Dengue hemorrhagic fever—a public health problem and a field for research. Bull World Health Organ. 1980;58:1–21.

Suggested citation for this article: Etymologia: dengue. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006, Jun [date cited].

DOI: 10.3201/eid1206.ET1206

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