Previously a threat between the months of June and November, Dengue fever is now seen almost throughout the year. It is a viral infection transmitted by the bite of a mosquito (Aedesegypti-a day biter). There are 3 phases to the illness – a fever phase, a leaky (critical) phase and a recovery phase.
Fever phase: The fever in Dengue generally follows a biphasic pattern, 3-4 days of high fever, then a fever-free period for 2-3 days, then fever again. Fever is generally accompanied by headache, pain behind the eyes, body ache, joint pain, general tiredness, pain in the abdomen, vomiting and rarely a rash and loose stools. The period to watch out for is when the fever subsides-called the critical or leaky phase.
Leaky phase: Not all children go through the severe form of this phase. During this phase, the blood vessels throughout the body become leaky, allowing the fluid component of the blood to leak out. This makes the blood thick and viscous, resulting in poor forward flow to the vital organs.
Hospitalisation may very well be necessary during this phase. The last phase of the illness is the recovery phase. If your child had a rash, it may appear ruddier and itching of palms and soles may occur during this phase. Appetite improves and there is a general feeling of well being.
If during the peak season (June to November), your child has fever lasting for more than 3 days without cold/cough/other localizing symptoms, do visit your Paediatrician to allay your fears. A simple blood test (in addition to examination of your child) may tell you if she has Dengue.
Note-The platelet count will fall in dengue fever and is not a reason to panic. The rise in Haemoglobin indicates how leaky your child is and how thick his/her blood is.
>Do’s and Don’t’s at home (after you have seen your Paediatrician):
Note: If symptoms are recognized early and managed appropriately, Dengue is just another viral illness! Dengue can recur in a child who has had the infection in the past.
Dr. Gnanam R
PediatricIntensivist and ER Consultant
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the writer and not of the hospital.
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