Complications of dengue  

In rare cases, a person with dengue goes on to develop a more serious and potentially life-threatening form of the condition, known as severe dengue.

People who have had dengue before are thought to be the main group at risk of severe dengue when they become infected again. For this reason, it's rare for travellers to develop severe dengue.

The warning signs of severe dengue usually appear three to seven days after the original symptoms, and include:

  • fever decreasing
  • an intense and persistent abdominal pain
  • persistent vomiting and blood in your vomit
  • rapid breathing
  • bleeding gums
  • feeling tired

Another related complication is that people with sever dengue can experience a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure. This is known as dengue shock syndrome.  

Symptoms of dengue shock syndrome include:

  • cold, clammy skin
  • a weak rapid pulse
  • dry mouth
  • reduced flow of urine
  • fast breathing

If you have any of the symptoms of severe dengue, you should seek immediate medical help to prevent the disease progressing.

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

You will probably need to be admitted to hospital and given fluids via a drip into one of your blood vessels to prevent dehydration and stabilise your blood pressure.

With treatment, the vast majority of people make a rapid recovery and are usually well enough to leave hospital after a few days. Without treatment, severe dengue is fatal in up to 40% of cases.

Page last reviewed: 04/09/2014

Next review due: 04/09/2016