Dengue is the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne viral disease characterised by occurrence of high fever, intense headache and severe body aches.
Dengue (also known as break-bone fever due to severe body and joint pain) is a very common endemic disease caused by Dengue virus, which has got four different types (Type 1, 2, 3 and 4). Dengue emerged as a serious public health problem as lack of proper reporting remains one of the major obstacle in its prevention and control.
When a person recuperates from dengue infection they develop a longstanding (not necessarily lifetime) resistance to that type, but not the other 3 types. If the person is infected once again with other virus type, they may develop further severe form of the illness known as dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF).
How is Dengue fever transmitted?
Dengue fever transmission never ensues from person to person. The virus is transmitted only through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquitoes. The mosquito becomes infected with the dengue virus when it bites a person who has the virus in their blood. After about one week, the mosquito can then transmit the virus while biting a healthy person. No transmission occurs directly from person to person.
Signs and Symptoms
Dengue is characterized by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Sudden and high fever with chills (103°F -106°F)
- Severe headache, backache, intense pain in joints and muscles,
- Nausea, vomiting, extreme weakness, loss of appetite
- Change in taste sensations
- Pain in abdomen, mild throat pain
Young children generally have mild illness than older children or adults. The symptoms and illness typically develops in day three and it lasts for 2-3 days. Further, fever and pains persist for about 1-2 days. In cases of Severe dengue (e.g. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome), the symptoms includes plasma leakage, blood in the stools or in vomiting and bleeding from nose or gums. Apart from that, severe dengue fever can even cause bleeding in gastrointestinal tract as well as weak pulse rate and low blood pressure.
Patients with comorbidities such as obesity, peptic ulcer, haemolytic diseases, congenital heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, chronic renal failure, liver cirrhosis, patients on steroid or NSAID treatment puts them under high risk category. Additionally, pregnant women and women who have menstruation or abnormal bleeding possess a high risk and leads to further complications.
There is no precised or clearly identified medicine to treat dengue fever. The infected person need to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration and should consult a doctor at the earliest. Avoid consumption of pain relievers as it can increase the risk of bleeding. If the illness worsens in the first 24 hours after the fever subdues, then it require immediate medical attention. If the person is suffering from severe dengue fever, then he/she needs supportive care in a hospital to administer Intravenous (IV) fluid or electrolyte replacement, blood pressure monitoring and transfusion to replace blood loss.
The eventual aim of controlling epidemic diseases like dengue is to prevent its transmission and control the spread of the disease as early as possible. There are no vaccines available to prevent dengue fever. The most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent even indoors which includes active ingredients that contains DEET or picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, pants and socks.
- Use screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering household.
- Maintain public and household environmental sanitation and water supply, and through sustained modification of human behaviour
- Ensure that there is no stagnant water in your surroundings. Make certain water does not collect in containers around the home and community by emptying water from containers such as flowerpots, buckets, barrels and tires.
- Use chemical or biological control of larvae and adult mosquitoes when needed. The efforts for prevention and control of dengue count on the efficacy of the initiatives to control the mosquito breeding sites.