What is dengue?

Updated: May 03, 2019
  • Author: Darvin Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Dengue is the most common and important arthropod-borne viral (arboviral) illness in humans. Globally, 2.5-3 billion individuals live in approximately 112 countries that experience dengue transmission. While the annual incidence is unclear owing to incomplete global reporting and misclassification of illness, approximately 3.2 million individuals were infected globally in 2015. It is caused by infection with 1 of the 4 serotypes of dengue virus, which is a Flavivirus (a genus of single-stranded nonsegmented RNA viruses). Infection with one dengue serotype confers lifelong homotypic immunity to that serotype and a brief period (approximately 2 years) of partial heterotypic immunity to other serotypes, but an individual can eventually be infected by all 4 serotypes. Several serotypes can be in circulation during an epidemic.

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