Early Treatment for Dengue

Treatment for dengue often requires only drinking enough water and other liquids to prevent dehydration, getting plenty of rest (“Dengue”, NHS, 2019), and, if necessary, taking pain relievers such as paracetamol in “just the right amount” to reduce the effect of the symptoms (“Denge Fever”, WebMD, 2019 and Guzman, M. et al, 2010 and Martinez et al., 2021 and DVBD, 2021, “Avoid Dengue by Preventing Mosquito Bites“). WHO encourages its consecutive dosing, by 6 hours apart at least (“Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control“, WHO, 2009).

If you suffer from dengue and are unsure what amount to take, consult your GP or doctor.

“Paracetamol […] for many ailments”. Photograph: David Gould/Getty Images

With proper medical care and early recognition, case-fatality rates are below 1%.

World Health Organization FAQ (“Dengue and Severe Dengue Q&A, WHO, 2019)

What to avoid

Avoid usage of medicines containing aspirin or ibuprofen, or more generally, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) as it increases the chances of internal bleeding (“Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control“, WHO, 2009).

Treatment for Severe Dengue

When experiencing fever and vomiting, it is encouraged to consume an oral rehydration solution (ORS), that is, drinking liquids that contain electrolytes and sugar, to replenish them (“Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control“, WHO, 2009).

Hospitalisation might be required when the situation becomes serious:

[Hospitalisation may be required if there is] no clinical improvement, deterioration around the time of defervescence, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, cold and clammy extremities, lethargy or irritability / restlessness, bleeding (e.g. black stools or coffee-ground vomiting), not passing urine for more than 4-6 hours.

Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control, World Health Organisation, 2009. (“Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control“, WHO, 2009)

If you believe you are suffering from severe dengue, please seek advice from a medical professional immediately.

Further treatment

WHO also recommends blood transfusion when severe bleeding is suspected or recognized. More technically, blood transfusion can only carry out when one does not suffer of fluid overload, that is, having too much water in our body, and before a hematocrit (hct) test drops too low, which measures how much of your blood is made up of red blood cells (<30% is recommended by, while indicates that this does not apply to severe dengue), (Dellinger, R., et al, 2007 and “Dengue guidelines for diagnosis, treatment, prevention and control”, WHO, 2009).

Current research

Kuan Rong Chan et. al., researching on therapeutic antibodies, found that mAbs (monoclonal antibodies) could be used in medicine to treat dengue, either serotype-specific or cross-reactive (allow immunity against several serotypes at the same time). Although mAbs neutralize the dengue serotypes activities, they seem to enhance their strength at the same time, so they still are in the research phase. ADE (Antibody Dependent Enhancement) is also an important factor that increases the chance of severe dengue, and they are researching whether mAbs would act as a trigger to enhance ADE activities as well. 

“Dengue virus infection” by Sanofi Pasteur is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0