Dengue or Dengue Fever is a mosquito-borne disease that usually occurs in subtropical and tropical regions of the world. It is more common in the western Pacific island and Southeast Asia. Other areas at risk are Southern China, Taiwan, Indian subcontinent, Africa, and Mexico.
However, its incidence has also increased in the Caribbean and Latin America. Today in approximately 100 countries dengue is endemic, and it affects about two-fifth of the world’s population. It is estimated that every year about 390 million cases of dengue infection is diagnosed. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the travelers returning to U.S, dengue fever is the primary cause of acute febrile illness.
Although dengue has no cure, treatment helps. The main aim of therapy of dengue is to provide symptomatic relief and prevent its complications. Our article will cover complete information about dengue, its symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
What is dengue fever
As mentioned above Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease. The onset of dengue fever is sudden. It is an acute illness causing severe flu-like illness that follows a benign course. It is also known as break-bone fever because of the intense joint pain and the muscle ache that accompanies the disease. The another name given to this illness is dandy fever because the severe pain also affects the posture and the gait of the victim.
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A more serious form of dengue disease is dengue hemorrhagic fever that is a serious condition and may be life threatening. If not treated in time dengue hemorrhagic fever may progress to Dengue shock syndrome. Dengue fever may affect any person of any age group and sex, but immunocompromised people and those with subsequent or second dengue infection are more at the risk of developing a serious condition.
Causes of Dengue Fever
The causative agent of dengue is dengue virus. It belongs to Flaviviridae family. Dengue virus is closely related to the virus that is responsible for causing West Nile virus infection and yellow fever. Its genetic makeup has one RNA strand. There are four closely related serotypes of dengue virus and are termed as dengue virus type 1-4. Mostly, when the first time you are infected with any one serotype of dengue virus you develop mild symptoms. Also, you develop lifetime immunity against that serotype. But, there are antigenic differences between each serotype. Thus, even if a person gets infected by one serotype and develops resistance against it, he/she can acquire the infection caused by other three serotypes.
But, if next time you get infected by any other serotype of dengue virus, you may develop a more severe infection if there are antibodies in the serum that are active against the type that has infected first. In your entire lifetime, dengue may occur several times. It is possible that you may acquire all the four closely related serotype of dengue virus infection in your whole life.
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How does the dengue virus spread
Dengue fever is not a contagious disease and does not spread from one person to another. Its virus spreads from one human to another, from the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. To complete its life cycle, the dengue virus requires both humans and mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites a person who has the dengue virus in his blood, it gets infected for its lifespan. The virus then matures within the mosquito. During a blood meal of infected mosquitoes, these mature dengue viruses are efficiently transferred to the other person.
Risk factors of dengue fever
Unfortunately, with time the incidence of dengue fever has increased and is spreading widely throughout the world. According to researchers several factors that are responsible for this are as follows:
1. The increase in the urban crowding and increased sites for the development of the mosquitoes.
2. International commerce containing infected mosquitoes has introduced the disease, even in the areas that were previously free of dengue.
3. Changes in the world and local environmental allows mosquitoes even to survive in the winters
4. Infected international travelers carry dengue even in the areas where mosquitoes were not present earlier.
5. Living in high-risk sectors such as tropical and subtropical areas.
6. Previous dengue infection increases the risk of developing more severe condition on getting infected again.
Sign and symptoms of dengue
After 4 to 15 days of an infected mosquito bite and the transfer of virus into the human body, the symptoms of dengue starts. This period is known as the incubation period. Symptoms usually take 3 to 10 days to subside in most of the cases, but in some cases, symptoms may last for long. During the incubation period virus multiplies and increases in the number. Just before the symptoms are displayed the amount of virus is higher, and this is the time when uninfected mosquito picks the infection on biting.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever
The symptoms of dengue fever depend upon the severity of the disease. The characteristic dengue symptoms are a temperature (that may rise to 106-degree Fahrenheit), severe headache, and rash ( this appears after two to five days after the initial fever). Together these dengue fever symtoms are known as dengue triad. Initial symptoms of dengue fever are a headache, chills and pain behind the eyes (pain worsens on moving the eyes) Other symptoms of dengue fever include:
- Swollen lymph glands
- Severe pain in muscle and joint (this begins during the first hour of illness)
- Mild to severe nausea, vomiting.
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Mild bruising on the skin
- Febrile convulsions
- Pale pink rash and flushing may appear and disappear over the face.
- Loss of appetite
- Low heart rate
- Red eyes
- Low blood pressure
Usually, a patient suffering from dengue recover in about two weeks. However, some patients may suffer from depression and fatigue for an extended period. In some cases, severe dengue fever can damage the lungs, heart or liver. A few patients with dengue fever may develop a harsher form of the disease known as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. The dengue symptoms in kids and dengue symptoms in adults are mostly similar but still there exists some changes.
Infrequent complications of dengue are as follows:
• Low platelets
• Low blood pressure
• Slow heart rate
• Liver damage
• Neurological damage
Read more: Symptoms of Dengue
Dengue hemorrhagic fever
What are the symptoms of dengue? Is there any dengue cure in particular? These are the questions that arise in any normal individual. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is characterized by the increase in the vascular permeability, abnormal clotting mechanism, and hypovolemia. It is a deadly complication. The symptoms are more similar to the dengue fever, but in a few days, these symptoms are followed by restlessness, irritability, and sweating. The fever continues for 2 to 7 days. The temperature may reach upto 41-degree Celsius and convulsions, and other complications may occur. A few recognizing sign and symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever are as follows
- Continuous and severe pain in abdomen
- Bleeding from gums, nose, and mouth
- Skin bruises
- Frequent vomiting with or without blood
- Black stools
- Excessive thirst
- Dry mouth
- Pale, cold skin
- In some cases, patients may be sleepy.
The factors that increase the chance of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever are as follows:
- Presence of antibodies against dengue virus from a previous infection
- Age below 12 years
- Being female
- Weak immune system
If dengue hemorrhagic fever is mild, the fever subsides and the symptoms abate, but in severe cases, after a few days of the illness, the condition of the patient starts deteriorating. Temperature drops and signs of circulatory failure follows. The patient may also go into the shock, and the condition is termed as dengue shock syndrome.
Dengue shock syndrome
This condition is characterized by petechia (bright red, itchy and small rash appearing on extremities that spread over entire body except for the face) and ecchymoses (larger blood patches under the skin). Even minor injuries cause bleeding. Some recognizing symptoms of dengue shock syndrome are as follows:
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Narrow pulse (less than 20 mm Hg)
- Cold, clammy skin
If a proper diagnosis and treatment are not available to the patient, it may lead to the death of the individual within 48 hours.
Diagnosing dengue fever
Many times, especially in those who never had dengue infection in the past or younger children the symptoms of dengue are mild and can be mistaken for other viral diseases and flu. Also, it takes 3 to 5 days for the dengue hemorrhagic fever to progress into dengue shock syndrome. During this period, the fever usually comes down, and the patient’s temperature falls. It may make you think that the patient is recovering. It is a very dangerous period and needs a proper attention and management. Thus, it is crucial to accurately diagnose the disease and start appropriate treatment in time to avoid complications.
Following are the steps to diagnose dengue fever correctly
1 Assess the symptoms – It is crucial to determine the signs and symptoms of Dengue accurately as it turns lethal if not noticed in perfect time.
2. Assessment of your medical history – The doctor may ask you questions like
Have you any exposure to mosquito bites?
Have to travel to tropical recently and subtropical areas where dengue is endemic?
Or have you had dengue infection in the past?
3. Dengue Fever Test:
1. Blood sample – To detect dengue virus, antibodies, nucleic acids, and antigens.
Other Dengue tests include:
2. ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay)
3. HI assay (hemagglutination inhibition assay)
4. RT-PCR (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction)
Treatment of dengue fever
How to treat dengue fever? Is there any specific treatment for dengue. No, there is no correct medicine for dengue fever as dengue is a self-limited viral disease. Adequate hydration can manage it, and controlling the pain. The most important thing to keep in mind is to avoid Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents such as aspirin ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. These drugs may add the symptoms of hemorrhage. Other non-NSAIDs such as Tylenol can be administered to ease the pain and lower the fever. To prevent dehydration, home care includes drinking lots of fluids and taking proper rest. Make sure the water you take should be clean. You can also take rehydration salts to replace minerals and body fluids. The best treatment for dengue fever is to stay hydrated and to check the minerals all the time which can maintain a balance of the body.
Dangerous forms of dengue such as dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome are treated with supportive treatments. In such condition, the patient should stay in hospital as they need proper care and attention. In hospitals, treatment of dengue fever IV fluid hydration, platelet transfusions, blood transfusions, blood pressure support, and other intensive care measures are given.
Use home Remedies as treatment for dengue:
Dengue treatment at home is not possible. But, we can just improve the condition of the patient along with the medications. In Dengue fever platelet count will decrease to below average levels which are a danger to the life of individual. So, it is important to increase dengue platelet count in Dengue fever. Dengue fever treatment includes improving the platelet count and bringing it to the normal. For this, both the Papaya leaf extract and Aloe Vera juice will increase the blood platelet count in Dengue fever. Other home remedies include Gilroy, turmeric, pomegranate, golden seal and margosa leaves. Besides, the treatment of dengue includes the boosting of the patient’s metabolism, strengthening the immune system and to reduce the pain.
Read more: Home remedies for Dengue
Prevention of Dengue Fever
Till date, there in no vaccine which can prevent dengue. The first precautionary step to prevent dengue is to avoid mosquito bite and to reduce the population of mosquitoes. The dengue causing mosquitoes flourishes during rainy seasons, but can breed in water-cans, filled flower pots and plastic bags, year-round. Mostly, the dengue mosquito bites in the mornings. Just one mosquito bite is enough to cause the disease. The worst part is that the mosquito that spreads dengue breeds in clean water and bites in the daytime. It has adapted itself according to human timings. Mostly it bites in the lower part of the body, and also you won’t hear their humming when they approach you.
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To prevent dengue mosquito control should be an attempt by the government and people in the endemic areas. If you live in high-risk areas, you should take the following measure to protect yourself from the mosquito bite.
How to avoid Dengue?
- Use mosquito repellents in your house.
- Wear clothing which can cover your body completely. If possible wear gloves and socks too.
- Wear bright clothes.
- To avoid or prevent mosquito breeding spray pesticides in the drainages or introduce small fishes into the drains which can eat the larvae of the mosquito.
- In case, the drainages clog then remove the clogs by removing the stagnant from it.
- Close your doors and windows in the evening time which are peak time for mosquito entry.
- Ensure that windows and door screens are secure, repair any hole if present.
- Use mosquito nets while sleeping.
- Keep your surroundings clean.
- Do not let water get stagnant in your near surrounding.
- Empty flower pots, water coolers, pet dishes and any empty vessel that can hold water.
- Also, avoid traveling to the areas of outbreak.
So, this is the complete information of the Dengue fever. Know the causes of Dengue fever and dengue symptoms to recognize the disease in its initial stages. But, one should have knowledge of the spread of the disease and its prevention. As prevention is better than cure, we should target on abolishing the mosquitoes in our surrounding environment to prevent the diseases like Malaria, Filaria, and Dengue. Follow the dengue prevention steps and stay happy.