Dengue, also known as dengue fever, is an infection spread by mosquitoes. It's not usually serious and often gets better on its own. Some people get a more severe type of dengue, but this is rare.
Check if you're at risk of dengue
You can get dengue if you're bitten by an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus bite during the day.
Dengue is very common in certain parts of the world.
It's often found in tropical areas including:
- parts of Africa and Asia
- Central and South America
- the Caribbean
- the Pacific islands
- some southern areas of North America
There's also a risk of getting dengue at certain times of the year (spring to November) in parts of southern Europe.
European countries where dengue has been found include:
- Portugal and Madeira
Dengue is not found in the UK and you cannot catch it from another person.
Check before you travel
Symptoms of dengue
Dengue does not always cause symptoms.
If you do have symptoms, they usually start 4 to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Some dengue symptoms are similar to flu.
- a high temperature
- a severe headache
- pain behind your eyes
- muscle and joint pain
- feeling or being sick
- swollen glands
- a blotchy rash made up of flat or slightly raised spots – this can affect large areas of your body
Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:
- you feel unwell after travelling to a country where dengue is found
Check your symptoms on 111 online or call 111. Tell anyone you speak to about your recent travel.
Get medical advice quickly if you have dengue symptoms while you're travelling.
Some people get a more severe type of dengue a few days after they first started feeling ill, but this is rare.
You may start to feel better with your temperature returning to normal, but about 24 to 48 hours later you may get more serious symptoms.
Symptoms of severe dengue include:
- severe tummy pain
- repeatedly being sick
- fast breathing
- bleeding gums or nose
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- being unable to relax (restlessness)
- blood in your vomit or poo
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you have travelled to a country where dengue is found and you have symptoms of severe dengue
Severe dengue can be very serious if it's not treated quickly in hospital.
Go to a hospital as soon as possible if you get severe dengue symptoms while you're travelling.
Treatments for dengue
Most people with dengue feel better in a few days.
There is no treatment for dengue, but you can help ease your symptoms by:
- drinking plenty of fluids
- taking paracetamol to help bring down your temperature and ease any pain
Do not take anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen or aspirin. These can cause bleeding problems if you have dengue.
If you have severe dengue, you'll need to stay in hospital until you recover.
How to prevent dengue
There's no vaccine available in the UK that you can have to prevent dengue before travelling to a country where there's a risk of infection.
If you're at increased risk of dengue, you should avoid travelling to countries where the infection is found.
At-risk groups include those who:
- are very young
- are over 65
- are pregnant
- have a weakened immune system
If you’re in a country where dengue is found, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
wear long-sleeved clothing and trousers to cover your arms and legs, particularly during early morning and early evening
use insect repellent on your skin (ideally one that contains the ingredient DEET)
close windows and doors whenever possible, or use blinds or screens
sleep under a mosquito net treated with insecticide, including during the day
Page last reviewed: 11 January 2023
Next review due: 11 January 2026