What is dengue?  Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

What is dengue? 

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection caused by a dengue virus. Usually, symptoms start three to fourteen days after infection. This may include high fever, headache, vomiting, pain in the muscles and joints, and a distinctive skin rash. Generally, recovery takes two to seven days. In a small number of cases, the condition progresses into extreme dengue fever, also referred to as dengue hemorrhagic fever, leading to bleeding, low blood platelet levels and leakage of blood plasma, or dengue shock syndrome, where there is dangerously low blood pressure.  

Which mosquito causes dengue? 

Female mosquitoes transmit the dengue virus primarily from the species Aedes aegypti and, to a smaller extent from Aedes Albopictus. Chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses are the vectors of these mosquitoes. Dengue, affected by rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, and unplanned rapid urbanization, is widespread in the tropics, with local risk variations. A wide range of diseases is induced by Dengue. This can vary from subclinical illness to extreme flu-like symptoms in those that are infected (people do not know they are even infected). Some individuals experience extreme dengue, albeit less common, which can be any number of complications linked to severe bleeding, organ impairment, and/or plasma leakage. When not properly treated, extreme dengue has a higher risk of death.  

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What are the symptoms of dengue? 

In a mild case of dengue fever, several individuals, especially children, and adolescents may experience no signs or symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to seven days after an infected mosquito has bitten you.

  • A high fever of 104 F degrees and at least two of the following symptoms are caused by Dengue fever. 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Aches and pains (pain in the eyes, typically pain behind the eyes, muscles, joints, or bones)
  • Headache 
  • Swollen glands 
  • Within a week or so, most individuals heal. Symptoms worsen in some cases and can become life-threatening. Sometimes, blood vessels become weakened and leaky. And the amount of platelets (clot-forming cells) in your bloodstream decreases. A serious type of dengue fever, called dengue hemorrhagic fever, severe dengue, or dengue shock syndrome, may be caused by this.

 Severe Dengue Disease

A patient usually reaches what is called the critical period about 3-7 days after the onset of the disease. It is at this moment in the patient that warning signs associated with serious dengue will manifest as the fever is falling (below 38 ° C/100 ° F). Due to plasma leakage, fluid retention, respiratory failure, significant bleeding, or organ impairment, extreme dengue is a potentially fatal complication.

  • Extreme pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting persistently
  • Bleeding from the gums or your nose
  • Blood in your urine, in your stools, or  your vomit
  • Bleeding beneath the skin, which may look like bruising
  • Difficult or rapid respiration
  • Cold skin or clammy (shock)
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability or disturbance
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How to diagnose dengue? 

For the diagnosis of Dengue infection, multiple approaches may be used. These include virological tests (that detect virus elements directly) and serological tests that detect immune components derived from humans that are developed in response to the virus. The implementation of various diagnostic methods can be more or less suitable, depending on the time of patient presentation. Serological and virological approaches can be used to analyses patient samples obtained within the first week of illness. 

What are the risk factors of dengue? 

Factors that put you at higher risk of developing dengue fever or a more serious form of the condition include:

Working in tropical areas or traveling – Living in tropical and subtropical areas raises the risk of dengue fever-causing virus exposure.

Prior infection of the virus with dengue fever- If you are infected again, the previous infection with the dengue fever virus raises the chances of developing serious symptoms.

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How to cure dengue? 

  • No specific treatment exists for dengue fever.
  • To manage the effects of muscle aches and pains and fever, fever reducers and pain relief may be taken.
  • Acetaminophen or paracetamol are the safest ways to treat these effects.
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, are best to avoid. These anti-inflammatory drugs function by blood thinning, and in a disease with a risk of bleeding, the prognosis can be exacerbated by blood thinners. Medical treatment by doctors and nurses familiar with the symptoms and progression of the disease will save lives with serious dengue, reducing mortality rates from more than 20% to less than 1%. For serious dengue treatment, preservation of the patient’s body fluid volume is important. Dengue patients should seek medical advice when warning signs emerge.
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How to prevent dengue? 

For those aged 9 to 45 living in areas with a high incidence of dengue fever, one dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia, is currently approved for use. During 12 months, the vaccine is administered in three doses. Slightly more than half of the time, dengvaxia prevents dengue infections.

The vaccine is recommended only for older children since, two years after receiving the vaccine, younger vaccinated children tend to be at higher risk for serious dengue fever and hospitalization.  The World Health Organization emphasizes that the vaccine alone is not an effective method for reducing dengue fever in areas where the disease is prevalent. The most important aspect of preventive efforts is still to monitor the mosquito population and human exposure.

 

Regulation and prevention

During the first week of sickness, stop getting more mosquito bites if you know you have dengue. During this time, the virus will spread in the blood, so you will transfer the virus to fresh, uninfected mosquitoes, which will infect other people in turn. 

Currently, combating mosquito vectors is the main method of controlling or preventing dengue virus transmission. This is done through:

  • Preventing mosquitoes from entering, through environmental management and alteration, egg-laying habitats;
  • Proper management of solid waste and the elimination of artificial man-made ecosystems which can retain water;
  • Covering, emptying and cleaning every week of domestic water storage containers;
  • It is recommended to wear clothing that minimizes skin exposure to mosquitoes.
  • Educating the population on the dangers of diseases carried by mosquitoes;
  • Engaging with the group to strengthen interaction and mobilization for continuous control of vectors;
  • To assess the efficacy of control measures, active monitoring, and surveillance of vector abundance and species composition should be carried out.

FAQ 

Ques 1- What is dengue? 

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection caused by a dengue virus. Usually, symptoms start three to fourteen days after infection. This may include high fever, headache, vomiting, pain in the muscles and joints, and a distinctive skin rash. 

Ques 2- Which mosquito causes dengue? 

Female mosquitoes transmit the dengue virus primarily from the species Aedes aegypti and, to a smaller extent from Aedes Albopictus. Chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses are the vectors of these mosquitoes. 

Ques 3 –What are the symptoms of dengue? 

In a mild case of dengue fever- 

A high fever of 104 F degrees and at least two of the following symptoms are caused by Dengue fever. 

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rashes
  • Aches and pains (pain in the eyes, typically pain behind the eyes, muscles, joints, or bones)
  • Headache 
  • Swollen glands 

In severe case of dengue fever –  

  • Extreme pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting persistently
  • Bleeding from the gums or your nose
  • Blood in your urine, in your stools, or  your vomit
  • Bleeding beneath the skin, this may look like bruising, etc.

Ques 4- How to cure dengue? How to prevent dengue? 

  • No specific treatment exists for dengue fever.
  • To manage the effects of muscle aches and pains and fever, fever reducers and pain relief may be taken.
  • Acetaminophen or paracetamol are the safest ways to treat these effects.
  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, are best to avoid. These anti-inflammatory drugs function by blood thinning, and in a disease with a risk of bleeding, the prognosis can be exacerbated by blood thinners.

For those aged 9 to 45 living in areas with a high incidence of dengue fever, one dengue fever vaccine, Dengvaxia, is currently approved for use. During 12 months, the vaccine is administered in three doses. Slightly more than half of the time, dengvaxia prevents dengue infections.

Dr. Rishab Sharma

Dr. Rishab Sharma MBBS, MD (Internal Medicine) He is associated with Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur. Dr. Rishab has wide experience in managing a variety of diseases, as well as managing critical care units in large government and corporate hospitals.

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