Sources and vectors of dengue fever

Disease science

Sources and Vectors of Dengue Fever


Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild fever to severe, life-threatening complications. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, specifically Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Understanding the sources and vectors of dengue fever is crucial for effective prevention and control strategies.

Sources of Dengue Virus

The primary source of dengue virus is an infected human host. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests the virus along with the blood. The virus then multiplies within the mosquito's midgut and spreads to other parts of its body, including its salivary glands. When the infected mosquito bites another person, the virus is transmitted through its saliva into the new host.

Vectors of Dengue Virus

The primary vectors of dengue virus are Aedes mosquitoes, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, particularly in urban and peri-urban areas.

Aedes aegypti: This species is the most important vector of dengue virus globally. It is found in warm, humid climates and breeds in urban environments, often in containers that hold water, such as tires, rain barrels, and flower pots.

Aedes albopictus: While less efficient in transmitting dengue virus than Aedes aegypti, this species is also a significant vector. It is found in both urban and rural areas and breeds in a wider range of containers, including tree holes and discarded tires.

Risk Factors for Dengue Fever

Several factors can increase the risk of contracting dengue fever:

Living in areas where Aedes mosquitoes are present: The risk is higher in tropical and subtropical regions where the mosquitoes are found.

Proximity to infected mosquito breeding sites: Areas with poor sanitation and high levels of stagnant water provide ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Frequent outdoor activities during peak mosquito biting hours: Mosquitoes are most active during early morning and late afternoon hours.

Unprotected contact with mosquitoes: Not using mosquito repellents, wearing protective clothing, or installing window screens can increase the risk of being bitten.

Previous exposure to dengue virus: People who have had dengue fever in the past are more likely to develop a severe form of the disease upon subsequent infections.

Environmental Factors Influencing Dengue Fever Transmission

Environmental factors play a significant role in determining the transmission of dengue fever:

Climate: Temperature and rainfall affect mosquito breeding patterns. Warmer temperatures and increased rainfall can lead to higher mosquito populations.

Urbanization: Rapid urbanization creates breeding sites for mosquitoes, such as discarded containers and poorly managed water storage practices.

Deforestation: Deforestation can create new mosquito breeding sites and increase the proximity of mosquitoes to human populations.

Water storage: Poorly managed water storage, such as open containers and leaking pipes, provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Transportation and travel: Mosquitoes can be transported over long distances through luggage or shipping containers.


Understanding the sources and vectors of dengue fever is essential for effective prevention and control strategies. By implementing mosquito control measures, improving sanitation, and reducing mosquito breeding sites, we can significantly reduce the risk of dengue fever transmission and protect public health.

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