Mosquito-borne dengue hits victims with pain, fever

Andy Irons’ father said he believes that the world champion surfer died this week of dengue fever, a painful, mosquito-borne illness that causes flu symptoms and sometimes blinding pain.

Irons had been in Puerto Rico last week, where dengue fever infections are reported “year-round,” said Esther Volper, a Ph.D. candidate and dengue fever expert at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Dengue is characterized by high fever, severe headache, chills, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, eye pain and a rash.

It typically takes four to seven days for dengue fever to show its symptoms, Volper said.

Before he arrived in Puerto Rico last week, Irons had competed in Portugal, a country that does not have dengue fever, Volper said.

“If he, indeed, had dengue fever he would have had to be bitten by an infected mosquito in Puerto Rico,” Volper said.