Dengue - Encyclopedia

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Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

DENGUE (pronounced deng-ga), an infectious fever occurring in warm climates. The symptoms are a sudden attack of fever, accompanied by rheumatic pains in the joints and muscles with severe headache and erythema. After a few days a crisis is reached and an interval of two or three days is followed by a slighter return of fever and pain and an eruption resembling measles, the most marked characteristic of the disease. The disease is rarely fatal, death occurring only in cases of extreme weakness caused by old age, infancy or other illness. Little is known of the aetiology of "dengue." The virus is probably similar to that of other exanthematous fevers and communicated by an intermediary culex. The disease is nearly always epidemic, though at intervals it appears to be pandemic and in certain districts almost endemic. The area over which the disease ranges may be stated generally to be between 32° 47' N. and 23° 23' S. Throughout this area "dengue" is constantly epidemic. The earliest epidemic of which anything is known occurred in 1 7791780 in Egypt and the East Indies. The chief epidemics have been those of 1824-1826 in India, and in the West Indies and the southern states of North America, of 1870-1875, extending practically over the whole of the tropical portions of the East and reaching as far as China. In 1888 and 5889 a great outbreak spread along the shores of the Aegean and over nearly the whole of Asia Minor. Perhaps "dengue" is most nearly endemic in equatorial East Africa and in the West Indies. The word has usually been identified with the Spanish dengue, meaning stiff or prim behaviour, and adopted in the West Indies as a name suitable to the curious cramped movements of a sufferer from the disease, similar to the name "dandy-fever" which was given to it by the negroes. According to the New English Dictionary (quoting Dr Christie in The Glasgow Medical Journal, September 1881), both "dengue" and "dandy" are corruptions of the Swahili word dinga or denga, meaning a sudden attack of cramp, the Swahili name for the disease being ka-dinga pepo. See Sir Patrick Manson, Tropical Diseases; a Manual of Diseases of Warm Climates (1903).

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