Should we be worried about dengue fever?

Nov 5, 2015 at 11:44 p.m. ET

YouTube star Allie Wesenberg went on a trip-of-a-lifetime to Hawaii, but she picked up an unwanted souvenir while there.

Wesenberg is one of a growing number of people who contracted dengue fever on the Big Island, resulting in a six-day hospital stay.

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"I started to see all these crazy side effects," Wesenberg said in a video after returning home. "My body started to ache. My bones hurt, it was awful. I seriously thought I was going to die."

She's not alone: Dengue affects between 50-100 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization, mostly in tropical climates.

Of those infected with the virus, about half don't show any symptoms, but those who do report painful body aches, severe headaches, rashes, high fevers up to 104 degrees and even more severe pain behind the eyes. The muscle and bone pain can get so intense that people say it feels like their bones are breaking, hence its sinister nickname as the "breakbone fever."

There are four different types of dengue, and the severity of the reaction depends on how many times a person contracts it. "When you get infected the first time, it might not be that bad," Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease expert and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told Yahoo Health. "But if you get infected with another type, you're at a higher risk for severe infection, which can be life-threatening."

About 500,000 patients are hospitalized with dengue each year, according to NPR. And though there is no cure, most people end up recovering within a week with the help of fluids and pain medication. There is a rare possibility of developing a hemorrhagic fever after the initial fever subsides, a condition that can result in organ damage, dehydration, severe bleeding and death, but the mortality rate of dengue fever is fewer than one person out of every 100 cases.

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At least 19 cases of dengue have been confirmed in Hawaii, according to the state's Department of Health. There is no cure, but health officials are encouraging residents and travels to use mosquito nets and wear repellant and long-sleeved, light-colored clothing. People should also avoid standing bodies of water and avoid being outside for long during early mornings and evenings.

Luckily, Wesenberg is on the mend, but she wasn't so sure she'd get better.

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"I'll be real honest with you, I seriously thought I was going to die," Wesenberg said of her illness. "I'm not kidding you when I say that because they couldn't figure out what was wrong with me."