Dengue in infants

If you have or care for young children, it's important to be aware of the risks of dengue. If you live in or are traveling to an area with dengue, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to expose your little one to the dengue virus.5  

Infants under the age of one living in an endemic region are at higher risk of developing severe dengue.1 They are more likely to experience symptoms and develop a severe infection than older children or adults.2 Babies with mothers who have had dengue before may also have a higher risk of getting severe dengue.5 This may be due to an effect called ‘antibody-dependent enhancement’.

There is no specific treatment for dengue. But there are things that can be done to help, such as ensuring the body has the fluids it needs, and close monitoring to check for signs of severe dengue.1

Dengue symptoms in infants

Symptoms of dengue in infants may be difficult to recognize, and can look similar to other common childhood infections.5

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you should seek medical attention immediately if your child develops a fever of 38º C (100.4º F) or higher, or a low temperature of less than 36º C (96.8º F) and any of the following symptoms:4,5

  • Sleepiness, lack of energy, or irritability

  • Rash

  • Unusual bleeding (from the gums or nose, or unusual bruising

  • Vomiting (3 or more times in one day)

After a dengue diagnosis in an infant

If your little one is diagnosed with dengue, it can be a worrying time, but there are things you can do to help. It is important to follow your doctor instructions closely.  
General advice from the CDC includes:4,5

  • Controlling the fever: Medications, as recommended by your healthcare professional, may help to reduce the fever.

  • Giving plenty of fluids: Such as water or drinks with added electrolytes could help prevent dehydration.5

  • Watching for signs of dehydration:4


Preventative measures

According to the CDC, the best way to help protect infants from infection is by avoiding mosquito bites.5  

If you live in or are traveling to an area with dengue, help protect infants by:5  

  • Covering the crib, stroller and/or infant carrier with mosquito netting 

  • Dress your baby in loose clothing that covers their arms and legs 

  • Emptying any containers of standing water 

  • Using insect repellent: 

  • For babies over 2 months of age, use repellents with active ingredients such as DEET (up to 30%), picaridin, or IR3535 

  • Always read and follow the directions on the product 

  • Adults should apply repellents to their own hands first, and then spread on the child’s exposed skin 

  • Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children less than 3 years of age 

If you are worried about dengue or have any healthcare-related questions, please contact your doctor or other healthcare professional promptly. 

  1. Verhagen LM and de Groot R. J Infect. 2014;69 Suppl 1:S77-86. 

  1. Dash, N. et al. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 2021;105(2):435–439.

  1. Alejandria, MM. BMJ Clin Evid. 2015:0917  

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your Infant Has Dengue. Available at: Accessed June 2023.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Protect Your Infant From Dengue. Available at Accessed June 2023.

  3. Clapham, H et al. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015;9(12): e0004262.