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Epidemic Control Toolkit
for community volunteers
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Dengue fever

Last update: 2023-06-23

Key facts

Transmission: vector-borne (mosquito)

  • Mosquito bite (mostly spread by daytime biting mosquitoes)
  • Other transmission modes exist but these rarely cause epidemics (for example during blood transfusion or vertical mother-child transmission)

Most vulnerable to severe consequences

  • Newborns
  • Children
  • Elderly 

Most vulnerable to contracting the disease

  • People living or working near mosquito-breeding sites (stagnant water)


  • Fever
  • Headache and/or pain behind the eyes (sometimes)
  • Muscle and joint pain (sometimes)
  • Nausea and vomiting (sometimes)
  • Swollen glands (sometimes)
  • Rash (sometimes)

Symptoms of severe dengue

  • Abdominal pain (especially an ache in the right side)
  • Fast breathing
  • Bleeding (especially in the mouth or nose, or blood found in vomit or stool)
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Restlessness


What can you do to prevent and control an epidemic?

Vector control and prevention

  • Initiate elimination of mosquitos and breeding sites
    • Remove standing water and apply larvicides
    • Promote community clean-up campaigns to remove rubbish and cover water containers
  • Prevent mosquito bites by advocating the use of:
    • Insecticide-treated curtains or screens on windows and doors 
    • Personal protection (application of repellents, wearing long sleeved clothes)
    • Insecticide-treated bed nets for children and others who sleep during the day
  • Monitoring the community and identifying sick people 

Treatment and management

  • Rapidly refer severe cases to health facilities
  • Refer all pregnant women with suspected infection to health facilities
  • Provide psychosocial support to the sick person and their family members

Social mobilization and health promotion

  • Find out the specific advice being given by health and other relevant authorities 
  • Model following this advice and inform community members of current health practice advice 
  • Offer support and encouragement to follow the advice  
    • Try to gain understanding about if and why health practice advice is not being followed  
    • With the guidance of your supervisor and health authorities, work with communities to overcome barriers to following health advice and recommended practices 

Mapping and community assessment

  • Make a map of the community.
  • Mark the following information on the map:
    • How many people have fallen sick with dengue? Where?
    • How many people have died? Where? When?
    • Who and where are the vulnerable people?
    • Where are the local health facilities and services? (include traditional healers)
  • Record the following information on the back of the map:
    • When did people start to fall sick with dengue? 
    • How many people have become severely ill (see symptoms of severe dengue)? Where?
    • How many people live in the affected community? How many are children under five years?
    • Do people generally cover their water containers (inside and outside)? Who is responsible for the maintenance of containers for household drinking water and for vessels to do laundry; is it women or men?
    • How does the community usually remove standing, stagnant water?
    • How common is it for people to live in houses with insect screens on windows and doors? 
    • How common is it for people who sleep during the daytime (for example babies and children) to sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets?
      • Are nets hung up and maintained properly? 
      • If people are not using nets, why not?
    • Are children badly affected by dengue? Are there other groups (specific ages, occupations, geographic areas, etc.) that are badly affected? 
    • What are the community’s habits, practices and beliefs regarding use of repellents, sprays, etc?
    • Have the authorities established a vector control programme?
    • Is a social mobilization or health promotion programme in place?
    • Which sources do people use/trust the most for information?
      • Are there rumours or misinformation about dengue? What are the rumours?
    • Who spends more time in the household during the day (and is more exposed to the mosquito bite)? Women, or men, or both?

Other resources

Zika, dengue and chikungunya toolkit: Zika, dengue and chikungunya toolkit | IFRC