Dengue Fever: Dengue Fever is a viral illness almost similar to Malaria or an exaggerated flu. This post will highlight some of the key features of Dengue Fever which one should be aware of.
Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by viruses that are related to the Yellow Fever virus. The disease is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with the Dengue virus. The mosquito gets infected when it bites a person who has the Dengue fever. Dengue fever DOES NOT SPREAD FROM PERSON TO PERSON DIRECTLY. Each year an estimated 100 million cases occur worldwide.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever:
- Sudden, high fever.
- Severe headaches.
- Pain behind the eyes.
- Severe joint and muscle pain (often termed as break bone fever).
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Skin rash, occurring 3-4 days after onset of fever.
- Mild bleeding from the nose, gums or easy bruising.
Symptoms can be mild and are often mistaken for a flu. Younger children and people who have never had the illness before often have milder versions of the disease. The disease can transform into serious conditions. One of them is DHF (Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever) characterized by high fever, damage to lymphatics and blood vessels, bleeding, enlargement of the liver and failure of the circulatory system. The second one is DSS (Dengue Shock Syndrome) with massive bleeding, shock and death. People with weak immune systems and those who get the disease a second time are prone for these severe forms of the disease.
Diagnosing Dengue Fever: Dengue Fever can be diagnosed by a blood test. However the results for this test might take anywhere between 5-7 days. Virus isolation in cell cultures, detection of viral genetic material by a test called PCR and detection of viral antigens/antibodies are some of the specific tests. Non-specific tests that might give a clue include history of traveling to a place with ongoing Dengue fever, low white blood cell count, low platelets, and elevated liver enzymes.
Treatment of Dengue Fever: Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for Dengue fever. For fever and body ache it is safe to use Paracetamol (NOT ASPIRIN AS IT INCREASES RISKS OF BLEEDING). adequate rest and plenty of fluids are more than enough in most of the cases. If you experience worsening of symptoms consult a doctor for further management. In severe cases intravenous fluids, blood and platelet transfusions might be needed.
WARNING SIGNS OF SEVERE DISEASE:
- Worsening abdominal pain.
- Ongoing vomiting.
- Liver enlargement (felt as pain in the right side just below the rib cage).
- Bleeding from gums, nose etc.
- Lethargy or restlessness.
Dengue Fever is a highly preventable disease. Unfortunately there are no vaccines yet to prevent this disease. Usual precautions against mosquito bites is necessary. Ensure a clean and hygienic surroundings to prevent breeding of mosquitoes. One point of interest: Dengue causing mosquitoes usually bite during the day time unlike their Malaria causing friends.