One of the most common vector-borne disease causing fever and flu-like symptoms in mild cases. It is a mosquito-borne disease that is transmitted by a mosquito named Aedes and is considered a rapidly spreading communicable disease. Million of cases are reported so far and researchers are working on dengue fever vaccines.
An illness caused by a virus that is serious and equally fatal. Dengue fever is caused by a bite of mosquito Aedes and occasionally presented by serious complications if left untreated.
In India, Dengue is one of the most common health concern, since the hot and humid climate of India promotes the growth of mosquito Aedes – the carrier of dengue virus that causes dengue fever. According to reports by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme around 67000 people across India had been diagnosed with Dengue in the year 2019. The data also reveals over 1 lakh people were diagnosed with dengue in the year 2018 and 2017 was an even worse year with 1.88 lakh people diagnosed with dengue and around 325 dead.
However, according to reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 Dengue continued to affect several countries and increased numbers of cases had also been reported. Recent data even shows India alone contributes to 34% of the threat of Dengue and prevailing most commonly in urban areas. And thus Dengue is endemic in India.
Since there is no vaccine available for dengue the ideal prevention is done by avoiding mosquito bites and preventing the Aedes virus from breeding.
Causes of Dengue Fever
Dengue transmitted by the Aedes mosquito causes dengue fever and it is also caused by spread to people through the bite of infected Aedes mosquito. When someone who already has dengue fever and is infected is bitten by the Aedes mosquito the mosquito becomes infected with the virus that causing Dengue to other people by biting them.
In this way it spread from one person to another, it is not contagious thus it does not spread from person to person directly.
Dengue Fever Symptoms
Once you come in contact with the infection, symptoms usually begin after 4 – 7 days. Usually, the symptoms appear as flu-like thus mistaken as another infection. For those who have the infection for the first time, milder symptoms appear and that can be observed especially in young children or people who have the infection for the very first time.
However, those who already had Dengue infection once or in adults or older children moderate to severe symptoms have been observed so far.
Common signs and symptoms are as follows –
- High fever (could go up to 105 degrees F )
- Joints and Muscle pain
- Very severe headache
- Rashes covering most of the body
- Sometimes bleeding from the nose
Severe Dengue Fever
After 3-7 days, the patient may go under critical phase, although fever starts dropping but more severe symptoms can start appearing. Severe dengue leads to many serious complications and is usually fatal, due to associated symptoms like respiratory distress, severe bleeding.
The warning signs of severe dengue are –
- Severe and continuous abdominal pain
- Bleeding from gums or nose
- Blood from stools, urine
- Rapid breathing
- The rapid drop in blood pressure
The patient should be kept in proper observation for at least 48 hours to reduce severe complications and the risk of death.
The chances of getting Dengue infection and risk of getting Dengue is more severe in following –
Tropical areas – If you are living in tropical and subtropical areas, the risk of getting exposure to infection is higher.
Dengue infection in past – If you had a previous infection with Dengue the risk of getting dengue with severe symptoms increases.
Not Taking Precautions – Take proper precautions in rainy seasons and after that. During this time, breeding of mosquitos increases and thus the chances of catching dengue fever as well.
Prevention is better than cure – Follow guidelines available for saving yourself from mosquito bites. Ignorance of these guidelines results in more cases of dengue every year.
Severe dengue could lead to serious complications leading to internal bleeding and even organ damage. Due to bleeding, the blood pressure drops suddenly to dangerous levels, causing shock. Severe dengue could lead to death also.
Pregnancy – Women who get dengue fever during pregnancy could spread the virus infection to the baby too during childbirth. Even it could lead to risk of pre-term birth, low birth weight baby.
Quick fact – Occasionally the patient suffering from Dengue may develop shock due to insufficient blood circulation thus termed as Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS). It occurs as a result of secondary infection with different virus serotypes. The four closely related serotypes of Dengue are DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4.
Dengue Prevention Measures
According to the World Health Organization vaccine is not an effective tool to reduce dengue fever in the areas where this infection is most common. First of all the prevention tip is to prevent mosquito bite as much as possible.
Tips to prevent the infection or the risk of mosquito bites are –
Dengue virus can cause infection most commonly during dawn to dusk (morning to evening ) but it can bite at night time too.
- You must wear full sleeves clothes, full pants, socks, shoes especially when you go to a mosquito-infested place or area.
- You must use mosquito repellant on the skin for sure while going to any mosquito-infested areas.
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping.
- Mosquitoes usually breed in standing water, in houses, around houses, and things like tyres, plant plate. Breeding should be prevented by cleaning the areas regularly to eliminate the habitat where they lay eggs.
- The things that contain standing water like flower vases, coolers, the areas that could hold rainwater should be cleaned properly and on regular basis.
- Windows and doors should be free from holes to prevent the entry of mosquitoes into the house.
- Animal and bird water dishes should be cleaned on regular basis.
- Try to avoid going to the playground or outside especially at dawn or dusk and if you are going cover yourself properly to prevent mosquito bites.
- Prevent Collection of clean stagnant water. Aedes mosquito most common breeds in clean stagnant water.
- Avoid scents, scents attract mosquito.
- Prevent leaves accumulation thus blocking any area as it can lead to stagnant water thus increase chances of mosquito breeding.
- Using Permethrin for clothes, shoes is beneficial.
- While picnicking choose the are away from stagnant water.
Common Dengue Fever Treatment
Dengue fever or infection does not have any specific treatment. If you feel signs and symptoms of Dengue you must consult your doctor on time to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent complications and any fatality later.
Symptoms of dengue become severe within no time. So the treatment should be started as early as possible.
Inform your healthcare provider if you have fever or symptoms of dengue and a history of traveling in Dengue infested areas.
- Pain relievers with Paracetamol (acetaminophen ) are helpful although Aspirin should be avoided as it can worsen bleeding.
- Take rest as much as possible.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
- Proper hygiene is very important that includes regular bathing. You can also add few drops of Dettol to your water as a disinfectant.
- Severe dengue symptoms are medical emergencies so immediate treatment should be given at the hospital as early as possible.
Dengue Fever : Home Remedies
Dengue fever cannot be cured with home remedies but symptoms could be alleviated through them. Some common and easily available home remedies are –
Papaya – Papaya helps in increasing the platelet count. The count decreases very soon in Dengue fever and leads to various complications. They also prevent symptoms like chills and leaves. You can use crushed papaya leaves can extract its juice and can have 2 teaspoonfuls daily.
Tulsi leaves – Basil leaves or Tulsi is wonderful to increase immunity. They fight infections by building immunity.
Hydration – Hydrating the body with water and electrolytes is very important with or without Dengue infection. Hydration cleanses the body by detoxifying the system.
Citrus juice – Citrus fruits, juices, vitamin C tablet improves immunity, detoxifies the body, and combat infections.
Dengue is not serious and fatal in most cases but it can turn fatal within few hours. Once you feel the signs and symptoms of Dengue you must consult your doctor for the best advice and treatment as soon as possible. Keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of water is important to prevent yourself from various infections.
Dengue is also called breakbone fever starting as mild dengue fever in which symptoms are seen after 7 days from biting of mosquito followed by Dengue Hemorrhagic fever which has mild symptoms but can worsen within few days. Dengue Shock Syndrome is a severe form that can lead to death too.
FAQ’s (Question and Answers)
Q1. Is there any medical test to diagnose Dengue?
A Complete blood count (CBC) is recommended to suspect Dengue. However, it would not confirm about specific Dengue virus but it is done to know about Platelet count and rest details.
Definitive tests to detect the presence of Dengue virus include NS-1 (nonstructural protein ), Immunoglobulin G and M test, and RT-PCR(real-time polymerase chain reaction ).
Q2 . Is dengue communicable ?
Dengue is not contagious, it can not spread directly from one person to another. However, if a mosquito bites a person already infected with the dengue virus, the mosquito itself becomes infected. And it spread the infection to other people by biting them.
Q3. Is dengue treatable or it is deadly?
Since no ideal treatment of dengue is available till now. However, prevention is the ultimate method to prevent infection. For mild Dengue infection general treatment usually help followed by hydration with plenty of drinks and some common home remedies. However, for more severe forms hospitalization is recommended for proper treatment as the severe infection becomes deadly and increases the risk of death.
Q4. Can a person have dengue twice?
Yes, a person can have dengue twice or more in a lifetime. Since four strains of dengue could lead to infection. Being infected from one strain does not provide any particular protection against other strains.
Q5. What is the first sign of Dengue infection?
Symptoms usually appear after 7-10 days after the mosquito bite. The symptoms might range from high fever, severe headache with other associated symptoms such as joint or muscle pain, rashes all over the body, and abdominal pain.
Q6. Should we ignore dengue in the Coronavirus pandemic?
No, not at all. Both Dengue and Coronavirus are equally treatable or deadly thus the healthcare providers during dengue season must keep check-in areas where dengue is endemic or people having travel history by performing appropriate tests (for dengue /coronavirus ) to confirm the diagnosis of the same.
Q7. What is the season of Dengue?
Dengue is most frequently observed in the rainy season or immediately after the rainy season that is from July to October in India.
Q8. When there is a need to get admitted to the hospital?
In mild cases after confirmation of dengue infection, treatment could be done at home itself. However early hospitalization is recommended if platelet count starts dropping below 150000, persistent abdominal pain, bleeding starts appearing from anywhere including mouth, nose, urine, stools, difficulty in breathing and fever doesn’t come down even after proper medication.
Q9. Do people with dengue need to be quarantined?
No, Dengue fever infection cases don’t need to be quarantined but people infected with dengue must be careful from mosquito bites. Since the mosquito, if infected with the virus would bit healthy individuals it would spread the infection to that person.
Q10. There are several kinds of fever, how is dengue suspected?
In viral infections, one might have a running nose, mild body pain, lethargy. But dengue infection would lead to high fever (105 degrees F) with one more symptom including nausea, severe headache, abdominal pain, rashes all over the body, joint pain within 24-48 hours after a fever.
Q11. Is there any vaccine available for Dengue?
A vaccine named Dengvaxia is licensed in some countries for people from age 9-45 years old. According to World Health Organization (WHO), the vaccine could only be given to people with confirmed prior dengue infection.
And the vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur, even announced in 2017 that people who receive the vaccine if are not previously infected with the virus might develop severe dengue if they get dengue after being vaccinated.
The vaccine is available only in areas where dengue is most common. Three doses of vaccine are given and each shot is spaced 6 months apart.
Q12. Is there any vaccine for dengue available in India?
Two new live-attenuated dengue vaccines are in phase III efficacy trials as on (1, jan 2021)
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