Dengue Fever: Statistics and Key Facts

Mosquito landing on man’s arm

Dengue fever is a significant health threat in many parts of the world. It is characterised by sudden high fever, severe joint pain, and potentially life-threatening complications.

In this article, we cover essential aspects of dengue fever such as symptoms, treatment, management, and prevention, as well as insurance coverage for dengue fever hospitalisation. It is vital to protect yourself and your community from this prevalent and potentially dangerous disease.

What is dengue fever?

Dengue is a viral infection that is usually contracted when an individual is bitten by an infected female mosquito. There are 4 dengue virus serotypes, meaning it is possible for one person to get infected 4 times. Once an individual is infected with one type, they develop lifelong immunity to that specific serotype. However, if they are re-infected with a different serotype, they are more at risk of developing severe dengue, which can be life-threatening [1].

The WHO estimates that 390 million dengue virus infections occur every year, 70% of which are in Asia. What’s most troubling is that the number of cases continue to rise annually, with 2019 being the year with the largest number of dengue cases to ever be reported globally.

Dengue Fever Statistics: Number of Reported Dengue Cases in Southeast Asian Countries in 2019


2019 Dengue Statistics



Reported 130,101 cases (over a 60% increase from 2018) & 182 deaths in 2019. [2]



Reported more than double the number of cases in 2019 compared to 20198, with 106,000 cases & 110 deaths through October. [4]



Reported 320,702 cases (a 2.5x increase from 2018) & 52 deaths in 2019. [5]



Reported 371,717 cases & 1,407 deaths through October 2019, a 106% increase during the same period in 2018. [3]



Reported 56,000 cases through September (8x the number of cases reported during the same time period in 2018). [6]


With many regions entering rainy season, and with warmer temperatures and increased humidity allowing vectors to flourish, keep track of prevention tips, symptoms, and treatment methods to know what to expect.

Dengue fever symptoms

Dengue fever symptoms usually present four to ten days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include:

  • High fever, which can hit 40C and above

  • Headaches

  • Joint, muscle and bone aches and pains

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Rash

  • Pain behind the eyes

  • Swollen glands



Some people, however, do not experience any symptoms. Conversely, others have extreme, life-threatening symptoms. This is referred to as severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever

(Severe dengue)

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is also known as dengue shock syndrome. It occurs when the virus causes damage to the blood vessels as well as a drop in the platelet (clot-forming cells) levels. Severe dengue can cause internal bleeding, organ failure and even lead to death.

Symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever can develop quickly, usually in 24 hours after the fever goes away. Signs of severe dengue include:

  • Extreme stomach pains

  • Blood in the urine and stool

  • Persistent vomitting - there might be blood in the vomit

  • Bleeding from the nose or gums

  • Bleeding under the skin - this might look like bruises

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Tiredness or fatigue

  • Feeling restless or irritable

Severe dengue can be life-threatening and as such, it’s important that you head to the emergency room immediately if you have any of the symptoms above.

How long does a dengue fever last?

Symptoms of dengue fever can last anywhere from two to seven days. Most people will recover in about a week. However, people who are immunocompromised and those having dengue for the second time are at greater risk of dengue hemorrhagic fever and may take longer to recover.

How is dengue fever diagnosed?

In addition to assessing your symptoms, dengue fever is usually diagnosed using a blood test to look for the dengue virus. The blood test will confirm which strain of the virus you have as well as check for other viruses presenting with similar symptoms for an accurate diagnoses.

Dengue fever treatment

There is currently no specific medication to cure dengue fever. Treatment is aimed at alleviating symptoms. Unfortunately, there is also no safe vaccine that can be used to prevent it. If needed, you can use over-the-counter medication to relieve the fever, joint pain and headache.

Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids and rest. Head to your doctor immediately if you feel worse within 24 hours of your fever subsiding, as this could be a sign of future complications.

Besides this, it is also important to note that children and the elderly are considered more vulnerable to severe dengue. As such, it is important that they visit the doctor as soon as possible if dungue fever is suspected - hospitalisation for closer monitoring may be needed.

How to prevent dengue fever?

If you have to be in a high-risk area, the following steps can help ensure that you do not get bitten by mosquitoes:

  • Use mosquito repellent

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts

  • Wear long pants and for extra protection, tuck your pants into your socks

  • Keep windows closed - use air conditioning if the room feels stuffy.

  • Install window and door screens. Check them periodically to ensure that they are secure. Repair them immediately if there are tears or holes.

  • Use mosquito nets for your sleeping area.

Besides these safety measures, steps can also be taken to reduce the mosquito population. This can be achieved by ensuring that there are no breeding grounds for mosquitoes in your surrounding area. Make sure the following areas or items at your home (inside and outside) do not contain still water:

  • Flower pots

  • Pails and buckets

  • Birdbaths

  • Cans

  • Pet dishes

  • All empty vessels that water can collect in.

If you do need to have a pail of water in your home or have a water bowl for your pet, change them regularly so that mosquitoes have no chance of breeding. If everyone does their part, the mosquito population can be significantly reduced.

Dengue in Malaysia

According to The Star, Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister reports a total of 18,884 dengue cases from January to June 2022. Out of this number, 12 cases have resulted in death. But what’s worrying is that these numbers show a 62.4% increase of dengue cases from the same period of 2021.

In Malaysia, dengue is often linked to the weather. Increased rain means more breeding ground for mosquitoes, while higher temperatures mean shorter extrinsic incubation periods (the time it takes for a mosquito to become infective after biting someone who carries the dengue virus).

As such, it’s not only important to do our part in reducing the mosquito population, but also essential that we take every precaution to protect ourselves from dengue fever and its consequences.

Dengue fever insurance

One effective way to protect yourself from the consequences of dengue is with medical cards such as PRUMy Medical Plus. Prudential’s medical insurance provides numerous benefits including:

  • Flexible medical insurance options to match your needs and budget.

  • Affordable premiums when the policyholder co-shares hospital treatment costs.

  • Financial coverage if you need hospitalisation for an accident or a critical illness.

  • Access to quality healthcare services and treatments.

  • Option to add on riders to strengthen your coverage.


As such, if you’re diagnosed with dengue, Prudential’s medical card ensures that you will have the finances for hospitalisation treatments. This is especially important if you have severe dengue that requires round the clock monitoring by doctors - insurance for dengue fever removes the financial burden that comes from being ill so that you can focus on recovery. Contact us today if you need more information, our team would be happy to answer any questions you have.


Is dengue fever contagious?

Dengue fever does not spread from person to person like the flu. It can only be transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito. However, the virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth if she gets dengue while expecting.

Can you get dengue fever more than once?

Yes, you can. This is because there are four different strains of dengue virus (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4). Multiple infections can increase the risk of severe dengue.

What are the differences between dengue fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika and chikungunya?

While dengue, Zika and chikungunya present with similar symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Dengue is known for severe joint and muscle pain and high fever. Zika is associated with birth defects and chikungunya often causes prolonged joint pain. A diagnosis by a healthcare professional is essential to distinguish between these illnesses.

Is dengue more dangerous than malaria?

Both dengue and malaria are significant mosquito-borne disease. However, their severity can vary depending on the individual, specific strain of the virus or parasite involved, and the timing of diagnosis and treatment.

Dengue can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Malaria, while also potentially severe, is usually charaterised by symptoms such as high fever, chills and flu-like symptoms. Severe malaria can cause organ failure and lead to death.

Where is dengue fever commonly found?

Dengue is common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. For instance, in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and certain parts of Central and South America.

Are there any long-term effects of dengue fever?

Dengue fever usually resolves without long-term effects. However some individuals may experience post-dengue fatigue or joint pain that can last for weeks or months. Severe cases can lead to more significant health issues.


  1. Fact Sheet: Dengue and Severe Dengue [Internet]. World Health Organization (WHO). 2020 [cited 20 May 2020]. Available from:

  2. Arumugam T. Dengue lurks in background of Covid-19 pandemic. New Straits Times [Internet]. 2020 [cited 20 May 2020];. Available from:

  3. Outbreak News Today. Philippines dengue epidemic up to 370K cases, Indonesia cases up ‘drastically’. [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 May 2020];. Available from:

  4. Siegel L. Asia’s hardest year for dengue fever – in pictures. The Guardian [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 May 2020];. Available from:

  5. Outbreak News Today. Vietnam reports big increase in dengue fever in 2019. [Internet]. 2020 [cited 20 May 2020];. Available from:

  6. Outbreak News Today. Cambodia reports dramatic increase in dengue in 2019. [Internet]. 2019 [cited 20 May 2020];. Available from: