Hesperian Health Guides

Dengue, Yellow Fever, Zika, and Chikungunya

In this chapter:

Dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya are different diseases, each caused by a different virus. They are spread by black mosquitoes with bands of white or silver-colored dots and striped legs. Two of these are the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). They usually bite during the day, especially in the early morning and late afternoon, and breed where people store water and anywhere water collects. These mosquitoes live in and close to houses and usually stay in shady, dark places, such as under tables or beds, or in dark corners. It can be hard to tell which virus a person has if Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are all present in your region.

a mosquito with striped legs
These mosquitoes cause many diseases. The legs are striped black and white.

Learn about the most common signs for dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya. Any of these can give fever and body aches. But some people have no signs at all. Unless they have a blood test that shows they had the illness, they may not know they were sick. And even if you have no signs, getting new mosquito bites will spread these diseases to others when the mosquito bites someone else.

Treatment is similar for dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya

Most often these 4 virus illnesses from mosquitoes are treated at home, but for babies, elderly people or people with HIV, or any danger sign including fever over 40° (104°F), see a health worker.

There is no medicine that cures dengue, yellow fever, Zika, or chikungunya. They are all treated with bed rest, drinking plenty of water and other liquids, and taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) to reduce pain and fever. Paracetamol is safer to use than aspirin or ibuprofen, which can be dangerous if a person develops severe dengue. If a woman might be pregnant, aspirin and ibuprofen could be harmful to her developing baby but paracetamol is safe.

Prevention is the same for dengue, yellow fever, Zika, and chikungunya

To prevent these illnesses, avoid mosquito bites and prevent mosquitoes from breeding. There is a vaccine to protect against yellow fever.

This page was updated:14 Sep 2020