Background Dengue virus infection is spread by the mosquito vector
Aedes aegypti and causes significant morbidity and mortality
worldwide. In Australia, it is an important cause of fever in
the returned traveller and recent outbreaks have occurred in
northern Queensland. A comprehensive understanding of the
clinical and public health ramifications of dengue infection is
essential for general practitioners.
Objective The aim of this article is to review the pathophysiology, clinical
manifestations, complications, laboratory investigations and
public health consequences of dengue infection.
Discussion Dengue should be considered as a differential diagnosis of
fever in a returned traveller, including in patients who have
travelled to northern Queensland within 3 months of an outbreak.
Clinical manifestations vary from asymptomatic infection to
serious disease. Typical symptoms last 7 days and may include:
fever, headache, myalgia, fatigue, abnormal taste sensation,
arthralgia, maculopapular rash and anorexia. Around 1% of
patients will get the more severe form of the illness, dengue
haemorrhagic fever. Recommended diagnostic tests depend on
the time since the onset of symptoms. Management involves
symptomatic treatment and monitoring for complications.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever requires hospitalisation. Prompt
notification to public health authorities and advice to patients
about prevention of spread are a key role of the GP.
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