Dengue fever is one of the infections that may cause death and illness in tropical and subtropical regions across the world. The virus causes fever, headache, rashes, pain and discomfort throughout the body.
Dengue fever is specifically caused by four dengue viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4), which are carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. These mosquitoes also act as vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses. Cases of Dengue fever are found throughout the tropics, with some local differences in risk caused by factors such as rainfall, temperature, relative humidity and unplanned fast urbanisation.
When you contract one of the dengue viruses, you gain lifelong immunity to that virus. However, the other three viruses can still infect you, hence you might get all four dengue viruses throughout your lifetime.
What causes Dengue Fever?
When an Aedes mosquito bites a person infected with the dengue virus, the mosquito acts a carrier of the virus. If this mosquito bites another person, that person might become infected with dengue fever. The virus does not spread from person to person.
Dengue fever can, in rare situations, progress to a more dangerous form of the disease known as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). DHF is potentially fatal and must be treated as early as possible.
What are the symptoms of Dengue Fever?
The primary symptoms of dengue develop three to fifteen days after the mosquito bite. It includes high fever and severe headache, as well as significant pain behind the eyes that are visible while moving the eyelids.
Other symptoms include joint discomfort, muscle and bone pain, a rash and moderate bleeding. Many persons who are infected, complain of low back discomfort. Dengue fever is sometimes mentioned as “breakbone fever,” which gives an idea of the severe bone and muscle pain it sometimes causes. Lymph nodes in the neck and groin may swell. Young children and people who get infected for the first time often experience milder symptoms than older children and adults.
Where the dengue virus is usually seen?
Dengue virus is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of:
- the Caribbean
- Central and South America
- Central Pacific
- the Middle East
- Asia’s Southeast
- The South Pacific
How can Dengue Fever be diagnosed?
If you think you have the dengue virus, see a doctor very soon. Early detection reduces the risk of complications and prevents the virus from spreading further.
Your doctor will inquire about your medical history, including any recent travel, and will do a physical examination. You need to undergo a blood test to diagnose dengue.
How can Dengue fever be treated?
Dengue fever does not have a particular therapy. Mild symptoms are treated by drinking enough fluids to avoid dehydration and getting plenty of rest. Acetaminophen-containing pain medications help alleviate the headaches and discomfort associated with dengue fever. Aspirin and ibuprofen-containing pain medications should be avoided as they might increase the chances of bleeding.
Most cases of dengue fever recover within a week or two and have no long-term consequences. You need emergency medical attention if someone has severe symptoms of the sickness, or if symptoms worsen in the first day or two after the fever has gone away. This might be an indicator of DHF, a medical emergency.
In severe cases, doctors will administer intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes (salts) to replace those lost through vomiting or diarrhoea. When begun early, this is generally enough to treat the condition effectively. In more severe situations, doctors may need to perform a blood transfusion.
Efforts should be taken in all cases of dengue infection to protect the affected individual from being bitten by mosquitoes. This will aid in preventing the disease from spreading to others.
How can you protect yourself from Dengue Fever?
You can ensure your protection against dengue fever by following the below-listed precautions.
Avoid mosquito bites and the dengue virus in heavily populated regions.
- To avoid dengue virus (and other mosquito-borne infections) in dengue-affected areas, protect yourself against mosquito bites. Suggestions include the following:
- Wearing socks, long trousers and long-sleeved shirts are preferred, as protective clothing may help you avoid mosquito bites if the fabric and fit are impenetrable to mosquitoes.
- Wear mosquito repellent with DEET (N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin as active ingredients. Reapply frequently and make sure to follow the label’s guidelines for safe use. (It may be safer for children to apply insect repellent on their clothes rather than their skin.)
- As dengue mosquitos attack during the day, both outside and inside homes and buildings, apply insect repellent first thing in the morning.
- Apply a permethrin-based product on your clothing or mattress.
- Make use of a bed net (mosquito net).
- Stay in an air-conditioned room with flyscreens on the windows.
Dengue fever has been increasingly common in recent decades all across the world. Because the majority of dengue illnesses are asymptomatic or moderate and self-managed, the true number of dengue cases is likely to be underestimated. There is no particular medical therapy or vaccination for dengue virus or other mosquito-borne diseases; the best method to guard against dengue virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent mosquito bites. Studies are being conducted for developing Dengue fever vaccines.
Severe dengue fever can prove to be a life-threatening medical emergency. If you have recently visited a region where dengue fever is known to exist, you have had a fever, and you develop any of the warning signs, seek immediate medical assistance. Severe stomach discomfort, vomiting, trouble breathing or blood in your nostrils, gums, vomit or faeces are all warning indications.