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How Often Can You Get Dengue? Expert Answers

Dengue reinfection is a possibility. But how many times can you contract the infection? Here’s what expert wants you to know

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 05, 2023 19:01 IST
How Often Can You Get Dengue? Expert Answers

Malaria & Dengue Day 2023: Fever Causes, Symptoms and Prevention Guide - Onlymyhealth

‘Tis the season when mosquitoes thrive and vector-borne diseases become more prevalent than ever. Dengue, a viral infection that spreads from mosquitoes to people, is common among people in the tropical and subtropical climates. An estimated 5-10 crore infections are said to occur annually in over 100 endemic countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The Health Body says that the incidence of dengue has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years. As per the latest report, over 1 lakh dengue cases were documented in India between January and October, 2022. By now, almost everyone knows what dengue is and what it is capable of. However, many still wonder whether dengue reinfection is a possibility or not. To find the answers, we at OnlyMyHealth spoke with Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant - Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram

Also Read: Viral Fever, Dengue, COVID, Flu and More, Same Symptoms Making Diagnosis Difficult

“There Are Four Subtypes Of Dengue Virus”

Dengue is a viral illness caused by the bite of an Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Generally, there are 4 subtypes of dengue viruses namely DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. According to Dr Tayal, a person who has been infected with one subtype develops immunity for only that particular subtype. This means once a person has been infected with one strain of the dengue virus, their body builds immunity against only that strain of the virus. 

How Many Times Can You Catch Dengue Infection?

If you’re wondering whether you can get dengue twice, the answer is yes, you can. Since there are four subtypes of the virus and being infected with one strain only makes you immune against that particular strain, you’re still likely to get infected with the other 3 subtypes. That means a person can get infected with dengue four times in a lifetime. 

The Risk Of Severe Complications

Dr Tayal says, “Subsequent infection with a different subtype of the dengue virus can increase the risk of severe complications.” This, according to research, occurs due to something known as Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE). It is a phenomenon, wherein the antibodies, which are supposed to protect the body from another bout of infection, tend to enhance the entry of the virus and replication in the cells, hence worsening the symptoms of dengue and putting one at greater risk of severe infection. Some of the complications include severe internal bleeding, hemorrhagic fever and liver damage.

Also Read: Dengue Vs. Covid-19: Know Differences in Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Symptoms To Watch Out For

The initial symptoms of a dengue infection include:

  • High grade fever
  • Headache
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain which lasts for approximately 5 days

In critical cases, one’s blood pressure may fall, followed by fluid accumulation in the lungs and abdomen and development of rashes. Some patients may also show bleeding manifestation, which is extremely concerning. Therefore, it is extremely important to identify the symptoms and hospitalise the patient accordingly. This period is followed by the recovery phase which lasts 3-4 days. 

Preventive Measures To Take

While everyone is prone to dengue infection, it can be prevented with effective steps. Some of the measures include:

  • Preventing accumulation of still water in houses and surroundings
  • Spraying Larvicidal insecticides and pesticides in stagnant water
  • Using mosquito nets, aerosolised insecticides in rooms while sleeping 
  • Using insect repellants which can be applied to the skin and clothes
  • Using mesh doors and windows wherever practically possible 
  • Herbal plants which have insect repellant actions may additionally be used 
  • Burning camphor and Dhoop may offer some additional benefits
  • Applying ice or Aloe Vera gel on mosquito bites for symptomatic relief


Dengue is a deadly disease, but can be treated with effective measures. During an infection, one must follow a healthy diet, stay hydrated and must rest properly. Those of you who have just recovered from an infection, ensure that you take all the preventive care as dengue reinfections are a possibility.