Imagine having horrible joint pains, swollen glands, a high fever, and a rash – all at the same time. Then you’ll have an idea of just how horrible the effects of dengue fever are. And with four different strands of the virus running rampant through the tropics and subtropics, it’s no wonder this debilitating sickness is sometimes called “breakbone fever”.
It all starts when a female Aedes mosquito (most often the Aedes aegypti) sucks blood out of a person infected with dengue. Soon the virus infects the cells lining the mosquito’s gut. The virus then carries on infecting the rest of the mosquito’s cells, all the way up to the salivary glands. Within 8-10 days, the process is complete, the virus is in the mosquito saliva, and humans had better watch out!
With a single bite, an infected mosquito can transmit dengue to a human host. While the mosquito is having its meal, the virus enters the person’s bloodstream. It then binds to the white blood cells and travels around in the blood stream, replicating itself. Once the white blood cells realize that they have been compromised, they begin producing proteins, but it’s these proteins that give rise to a great deal of the symptoms.