Dengue Fever- Risks,Treatment and Control

Dengue Fever- Risks,Treatment and Control

Dengue fever is one of the latest viral infections to hit humans recently. It is an infection, which is caused by a virus, which is transmitted, from mosquitoes. Who knew that one-day mosquitos would be the carrier of chronic diseases?

Dengue fever appears to be a similar infection as ordinary flu. Maybe that’s why it takes time to realize that what you have is not common cold but something severe. There are four different viruses which cause dengue. The mosquito Aedes (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) is responsible for its widespread.

General information on Dengue fever

There are many stages of this infection and it is nearly impossible to know it if you don’t know the symptoms of dengue. These symptoms can be mild or severe, depending upon at which level one patient stands. The chronic forms of dengue can be dengue shock syndrome (DSS) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).

The initial forms of dengue require personal care, but the chronic stages need the patient to be admitted to the hospital. There are absolutely no vaccines available, and it is challenging to treat dengue without a timely diagnosis.

A delayed diagnosis increases the chances of getting dengue shock syndrome and dengue hemorrhagic fever. It is very common among major countries of the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that nearly 400 million people get infected with dengue each year.

Only in the United States of America, each year, over 100 cases of dengue are reported. Many of the cases go unnoticed. It is even more common in people, who travel to international destinations. In the USA, the most affected areas are Texas, Hawaii, and Florida.

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What are the typical risks of Dengue?

One surprising thing about dengue is that it doesn’t have specific symptoms like other diseases. These symptoms vary, and usually, they are more apparent when the infection becomes persistent and chronic.

a- Acute Dengue Symptoms

The symptoms of mild dengue fever start to show up within the first week of the infection. Once the mosquito bites you, you are more likely to get infected in as low as seven days. Some of the most common symptoms include the following.

  • Muscular pains
  • Joints pains
  • Body rashes
  • Pain behind eyes and forehead
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea

There is no specific symptom of dengue except rashes. But these rashes appear and disappear time to time. There are few- very general by nature.

b-  Chronic Dengue symptoms

Two most severe conditions with dengue are the following.

  • Dengue hemorrhagic fever

Dengue hemorrhagic fever or DHF starts from a low level and take up a severe form within a few days. On a mild level, it doesn’t appear to be serious. If one continues to ignore it and got no treatment for it, it can be very destructive. The worst is to have internal bleeding.

The typical signs of dengue hemorrhagic fever can be any of the following symptoms.

  • Bleeding from mouth
  • Bleeding from nose
  • Bleeding from gums
  • Sensitive skin
  • Damage to lymph
  • Internal bleeding
  • Low immunity
  • Digestive issues
  • Redness of skin
  • Red spots under skin
  • Weak pulse

One can feel any of these signs or a bunch of them altogether. This depends upon the health status of a person that how would his body respond to dengue virus.

  • Dengue shock syndrome

Dengue shock syndrome or DSS is the most severe form of dengue. It is so destructive that it can take one’s life. The apparent signs of dengue shock syndrome can be from the following list.

  • Digestive issues
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Disorientation of the bodily functions
  • Bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting

The patient may not know what is going inside his body. He needs specialized care and treatment, which only a specialist doctor can suggest. For all this, it is necessary that dengue shock syndrome should be diagnosed on time.

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How does dengue emerge as a deadly virus?

As already mentioned, dengue virus has four strains. All of them are equally capable of causing the infection. Even the mode of transmission of all these viral strains is the same.

One mosquito Aedes aegypti transmits all of them majorly. Another strain Aedes albopictus mosquito is also sometimes responsible for its transmission.

If you read history, you will notice that it wasn’t here from the start of the time. It was not even a disease of humans. The historical evidence suggests that it was shifted from monkeys to humans hundreds of years ago.

Even at that time, it was a minor problem and not a lethal disease. The recent outbreak emerged from Africa, and from there is transmitted to the whole world.

The virus of dengue first infected mosquitos, and from there it was shifted to humans. The infected mosquito when bites a healthy individual, it transmits the growing virus inside it to the human. That is how the infection starts.

Which areas are at the highest risk of it?

For some reason, there are some areas, which have a higher risk of dengue. For example, the tropical and subtropical regions such as Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, Pacific region, and Caribbean areas are at a higher risk. The risk is also high in North Australia.

How to diagnose dengue?

The diagnosis of dengue requires special attention because this is the first step to determine the health hazards which it may bring to you. There are no apparent signs of dengue.

One may feel that these signs are very similar to other diseases. For example in malaria and typhoid, the symptoms are more or less same. For the accurate diagnosis, it may take a few days.

More than the physical signs, it is important that you must tell the doctor about your health-related history, recent travel details and experiences which may aid in transmitting virus too. Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment will start right away.

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Treatment options for dengue

Despite being one of a deadly infection, the treatment, which the doctor will give you, will be primary at the first step. There is no special medicine to kill dengue virus. The generic medicines are usually what you get in dengue.

Being a complicated virus, dengue doesn’t have any specific medicine for it. A combination of medications is helpful, but it depends on which level of disease the patients stands. The basic self-precautionary options are as follows.

  • Hydrate your body

Hydration is one thing, which you can not ignore. Not just for dengue, it overall maintains the functions of the body by maintaining a perfect balance of all nutrients and water.

Like in dengue, nausea, and vomiting is a common outcome. It may leave your body to dehydrate. Coined with fever, this dehydration can be damaging to the body at cellular level.

If you start rehydrating the body at this step, the mineral and fluid content will be balanced again, and the recovery process will be rapid.

  • Take over the counter painkillers

Body pain is one common thing, which you may often experience. It is due to the weakness and fever which dengue virus brings for you. To help your body, you can try any general painkiller medicine.

For example, you can use paracetamol, aspirin, Tylenol, etc., to reduce the pain.

A higher stage of dengue may require intravenous fluid intake through a drip. In severe forms of dengue, the patient should be admitted to the hospital right away for a continuous monitoring.

Can you prevent dengue?

Like other diseases, where you can get a vaccine, dengue virus is not the same. There is no vaccine available for dengue. The only thing that you can do is to avoid the mosquito biting.

Also, if you are visiting an infected area, you need to follow the individual instructions to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. But if you are living in a high-risk area, it’s not just one or two things but a lifestyle that you have to adopt.

For example,

  • You have to be very particular about your clothes. If you wearing short clothes which expose skin, the mosquitos are more likely to attack you. Wearing full sleeves and pants will reduce the risk.      Also, try to use mosquito repellent on the skin when you go out especially in evenings and night. Wear socks if necessary.
  • While selecting a mosquito repellent, select the one, which has 10% concentration of diethyltoluamide (DEET). It is even more useful when you are planning to spend a long day outdoors. But don’t use it on children.
  • In the night, try to follow the precautionary measures to avoid mosquitos. You can follow the traditional equipment such as mosquito nets and traps. Other methods are to go for an insecticide spray in your entire house.
  • You can also use liquid-based mosquito repellents, coils, and similar things.
  • Try to close doors and windows in evenings and nights so that mosquitos don’t enter your house. Use a net on windows if you have a habit of opening them for the entire day.
  • Certain fragrances attract mosquitos. It can be anything from your hand wash, soap or perfume. Try to avoid such products.
  • There are times when mosquitos are more active than usual. If you have a habit of morning run or evening walk, you must know that these times have the highest risk of mosquito attacks.
  • Try to avoid going out in these particular times. In case you must go, follow the protocols for personal safety.
  • Dengue mosquito grows in dirty, unhygienic conditions. One most favorite habitat of it is the stagnant water. Make sure that there is no stagnant water in your house, lawn or around your society.

These are just basic things, which help to reduce the chances of getting infected with dengue virus. More details, medicines, and tips can be achieved from your health service provider, on request.

Sources

  • www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs117/en/
  • https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/dengue
  • https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/symptoms/index.html
  • https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/dengue-fever
  • https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Dengue.aspx
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The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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