Dengue (pronounced den-gee) is a mosquito borne viral disease that can lead to severe illness, which can potentially be fatal. Also referred to as Breakbone Fever, Dengue is caused by four different viruses, and is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus – varieties of mosquitoes that are found nearly everywhere on the planet. Annually, somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people get afflicted by Dengue.
How do mosquitoes transmit the Dengue virus?
A mosquito first catches the virus when it bites someone who is already suffering from Dengue, and thereafter transmits it to someone else via biting.
What are the Effects of Dengue?
Under the influence of Dengue, a patient can suffer from damage of the lungs, liver and heart. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) – an extreme form of Dengue – is known to cause severe bleeding, a sudden fall in blood pressure and, in certain cases, even death.
It is pertinent to note that an immune system that is weaker than normal puts an individual at a much greater risk of catching this illness. Similarly, people with a second or subsequent infection are much more susceptible to contacting Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. Living in tropical and subtropical countries – such as South East Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and the Western Pacific Islands – also multiplies the probability of falling victim to the deadly mosquito bite.
An individual can contact Dengue more than once. The second time around, there is a higher risk of this malady assuming a more intense or serious form.
What are the Warning Signs and Early Detection Dengue Symptoms?
The Dengue symptoms tend to manifest themselves not before 3 to 4 days of the original mosquito bite, and can last upto 10 days or longer. Dengue symptoms are sometimes of a mild nature and can be mistaken for common cold or flu. Children and individuals who have never had Dengue before can be afflicted with a milder case as compared to others.
Rash across the skin which can disappear and appear again.
Pain behind the eyes.
A sense of fatigue.
Mild bleeding (such as in the gums and nose).
Susceptibility to getting bruised easily.
A sense of irritability.
In the case of Dengue Shock Syndrome (or DSS – a more severe form of Dengue that can result in death if it goes untreated), some of the Dengue symptoms mentioned below may be experienced:
Profuse and heavy bleeding.
Fluid leakage from blood vessels.
Acute pain in the stomach.
Sudden bout of Hypotension (very low blood pressure).
Rapid fall in blood pressure.
A sense of disorientation and indisposition.
What is the Treatment for Dengue?
The goal of Dengue fever vaccines is to prevent the spread of the Dengue virus via mosquito or any other means. About five vaccines are under various stages of development at the current time. However, there still isn’t an official, and complete vaccine for Dengue. If, however, a proper clinical diagnosis is made before the patient develops DSS or DHF, treatment is possible. The mortality rate (ie, frequency of death) in cases where there has been an early detection and treatment is fewer than one individual in a hundred.
If someone believes that he or she has contacted Dengue, it is advisable to go for a pain reliever with acetaminophen and avoid medication that contains aspirin or other Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), since the latter could make the bleeding worse. Additionally, one must make sure to take ample rest, drink sufficient fluids and consult a professional or physician immediately. If the feeling becomes worse after the fever has receded, it is crucial that the individual checks into a hospital or medical centre without further ado.
It is to be noted that Dengvaxia is a vaccine that has been endorsed for Mexico and Brazil for those between the ages of 9 and 45 and living in areas that have a high track record of Dengue fever. Dengvaxia is administered in three doses over a course of one year. So far, the success rate is slightly higher than 50%. However, the WHO (World Health Organization) doesn’t recognize this as a 100% effective vaccine. The best ‘cure’, therefore, is to make sure that one is not bitten by a mosquito.
How to Stay Protected from Dengue | Dengue Prevention?
Take all necessary steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your area. Turn off taps (and fix leaking ones) and make sure there are no stagnant water areas – including flowerpots, buckets, utensils, cans, bird feeders, AC units and so on. Aedes mosquitoes breed in clean stagnant water collection.
Don’t expose your skin too much – cover the arms and wear long sleeves, trousers (instead of shorts) and socks.
Keep your distance from residential areas and regions that are heavily populated.
Use mosquito nets while sleeping.
Turn on the air conditioning whenever possible, keeping it’s carbon footprint in mind.
Make sure windows, doors and apertures in the house are closed and don’t have holes, breakages or openings through which mosquitoes can come in.
Seek immediate help of professionals if you have any symptom of Dengue.
Since Dengue is a transmittable disease by mosquito bites, in case someone in the family falls victim to Dengue, make sure you take extra precaution to protect the other members, by essentially ensuring both the patient and other family members avoid mosquito bites.
Always use mosquito repellents.
Dengue Tests | How is Dengue Diagnosed?
A blood test that checks for virus and antibodies can help detect and diagnose a Dengue attack. Serological tests, antibody tests and molecular methods that assess the body’s response to the Dengue virus, whereas certain tests like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) isolate the virus, thereby facilitating detection and diagnosis. Acute or ongoing cases of Dengue infection can be done via serum sample testing, which has to be done during the first 5 days of symptom detection or convalescence.
This test is generally used to detect dengue virus ns1 antigen
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