Dengue

What is dengue?

Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Dengue symptoms usually start within a few days of being bitten but can take up to 2 weeks to develop. Symptoms can be mild or severe and can include fever, nausea, vomiting, rash, headache, eye pain, joint and muscle pain, and minor bleeding. In severe cases, dengue can cause shock, internal bleeding, and even death. Learn more about severe dengue.

Not everyone who gets infected with dengue will feel sick, only about 1 out of 4 infected people get sick. You are more likely to develop severe dengue if you were infected before. Infants and pregnant women are more likely to develop severe dengue.

Who is at risk?

Mosquitoes that spread dengue are found in countries throughout the world. Dengue occurs in many countries of the world in the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Check if dengue is a concern at your destination.

The following activities can increase a traveler’s chance of getting infected:

  • Spending a lot of time outdoors
  • Traveling during times of the year when mosquitoes are more common, such as during the summer to popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

What can travelers do to prevent dengue?

Travelers can protect themselves from dengue by taking the following steps.

Use insect repellent

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  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the active ingredients below. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
    • DEET
    • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
    • IR3535
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
    • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
    • 2-undecanone

Find the right insect repellent for you by using EPA's search tool.

graphic: putting repellent on child

  • Insect repellent tips for babies and children
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
    • Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.
    • When using insect repellent on your child:
      • Always follow label instructions.
      • Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
      • Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
        • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Treat clothing and gear with permethrin

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  • Use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
    • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills or repels mosquitoes.
    • Permethrin-treated clothing provides protection after multiple washings..
    • Read product information to find out how long the protection will last.
  • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions.
  • Do not use permethrin products directly on skin.
  • Watch the video What You Need to Know About Permethrin.

Keep mosquitoes out of your hotel room or lodging

  • Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or window and door screens.
  • Use a mosquito net if you are unable to stay in a place with air conditioning or window and door screens or if you are sleeping outside.

Sleep under a mosquito net

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  • Sleep under a mosquito net if you are outside or when screened rooms are not available. Mosquitoes can live indoors and bite during the day and night.
  • Buy a mosquito net at your local outdoor store or online before traveling overseas.
  • Choose a mosquito net that is compact, white, rectangular, with 156 holes per square inch, and long enough to tuck under the mattress.
  • Permethrin-treated mosquito nets provide more protection than untreated nets.
    • Permethrin is an insecticide that kills mosquitoes and other insects.
    • To determine if you can wash a treated mosquito net, follow the label instructions.

Dengue vaccine in the United States
  • In May 2019, Dengvaxia® was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States for use in children 9-16 years old living in an area where dengue is common (the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands), with laboratory confirmed prior dengue virus infection.
  • Information on the vaccine’s availability in the U.S. territories is pending.

If you are bitten by mosquitoes, avoid scratching the bites and apply over-the-counter anti-itch or antihistamine cream to relieve itching. See Mosquito Bite Symptoms and Treatment.

stethoscope

If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.

If you need medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information