By: Dr Ameya Tripathi, Associate Editor-ICN
LUCKNOW: Dengue (pronounced DENgee) fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Recovery generally takes two to seven days. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.
Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species (Ae. aegypti or Ae. albopictus) mosquito. These mosquitoes also spread Zika, chikungunya, and other viruses.
Dengue is common in more than 100 countries around the world.
Forty percent of the world’s population, about 3 billion people, live in areas with a risk of dengue. Dengue is often a leading cause of illness in areas with risk.
Each year, up to 400 million people get infected with dengue. Approximately 100 million people get sick from infection, and 22,000 die from severe dengue.
Dengue is caused by one of any of four related viruses: Dengue virus 1, 2, 3, and 4. For this reason, a person can be infected with a dengue virus as many as four times in his or her lifetime.
Preventing Dengue Fever
The best way to prevent the disease is to prevent bites by infected mosquitoes, particularly if you are living in or traveling to a tropical area. This involves protecting yourself and making efforts to keep the mosquito population down. In 2019, the FDA approved a vaccine called Dengvaxia to help prevent the disease from occurring in adolescents aged 9 to 16 who have already been infected by dengue. But, there currently is no vaccine to prevent the general population from contracting it.
Prevent spread of dengue inside your house
Mosquitoes that bite the affected family member can go on to bite and
- Allow the sick child or family member to rest and sleep under a
bed net or use insect repellant while feverish.
- Kill all mosquitoes in the house and empty containers that carry
water on patios.
- Place screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from
entering the house.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include
Sudden, high fever
Pain behind the eyes
Severe joint and muscle pain
Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever
Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)
Sometimes, symptoms are mild and can be mistaken for those of the flu or another viral infection. Younger children and people who have never had the infection before tend to have milder cases than older children and adults. However, serious problems can develop. These include dengue hemorrhagic fever, a rare complication characterized by high fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, bleeding from the nose and gums, enlargement of the liver, and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death. This is called dengue shock syndrome (DSS)
Diagnosing Dengue Fever
Doctors can diagnose dengue infection with a blood test to check for the virus or antibodies to it. If you become sick after traveling to a tropical area, let your doctor know. This will allow your doctor to evaluate the possibility that your symptoms were caused by a dengue infection. Differential diagnosis is made by your physician for similar disease like chikungunya etc.
Treatment for Dengue Fever
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. If you think you may have dengue fever, you should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid medicines with aspirin, which could worsen bleeding. You should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and see your doctor. If you start to feel worse in the first 24 hours after your fever goes down, you should get to a hospital immediately to be checked for complications. Apart from attempts to control the spread of the Aedes mosquito there are ongoing efforts to develop antiviral drugs that would be used to treat attacks of dengue fever and prevent severe complications.
- Let your sick child or family member rest as much as possible. Control high fever
- Do not give ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), aspirin, or aspirin containing drugs.
- Sponge the patient’s skin with cool water if fever remains high.
- Give acetaminophen or paracetamol (Tylenol) every 6 hours if needed for high fever (maximum 4 doses per day).
Give plenty of fluids, and watch for signs of dehydration, which occurs when a person loses too much body fluid from fever, vomiting, or if he or she does not drink enough fluids.
For children and infants, bring your child or sick family member to a clinic or emergency room if any of the following signs appear:
- Decrease in urination (check number of wet diapers or trips to bathroom
- Few or no tears on crying
- Dry mouth, tongue, or lips and toes
- Cold or clammy fingers
- Listless, overly agitated or confused
- Rapid heartbeat (more than 100 per minute)
- Sunken or soft spot on (fontanel) in an infant head
So dear friends. Kindly stay updated and protect your family and friends against dengue.
Dr Ameya Tripathi is celebrated dental surgeon, social worker, writer, dental implantologist working at Rama Dental Clinic & Implant center Mahanagar Lucknow and Gomti Nagar Lucknow as its director. His works can be visited at www.ramamdentalclinic.com