What you should know about dengue fever…

DR. AMITABH KHANNA

What is dengue fever?

Dengue is a mosquito-borne seasonal viral infection caused by four closely related viruses (DENV 1-4) transmitted by the bite of a female mosquito of the genus Aedes. These domestic mosquitoes thriving around human habitations typically bite in daylight hours.


They are easily recognized by their peculiar white spotted body and legs. In India, the outbreak of the disease usually occurs in the post-monsoon season when the mosquito population reaches its peak. Usually the Dengue cases are predominantly reported in urban and semi-urban areas. A more severe infection, known as dengue haemorrhagic fever, caused by same virus, can be fatal if not detected at an early stage.

Who gets Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever can occur to people of all ages. Children usually have a milder disease than adults.

What’s are the symptoms of Dengue Fever?
The symptoms of dengue fever are generally seen in around three days after transition of virus to humans through mosquitoes bite and after that patient starts feeling very weak. Dengue fever, however, is not a fatal disease.

Dengue fever may vary on an individual basis for each patient. One should always remember before looking for treatment that over-medication in dengue fever is likely to lead to further complications and some times it may also turn slight serious. A mild attack of the fever may pass off without having to administer any medicine.

Some of the main symptoms of dengue fever are listed below: Dengue fever usually starts suddenly with a rapidly climbing high fever, that’s why the temperature in dengue fever is called a ‘saddleback’ type temperature.

severe headaches.
Retro-orbital pain behind the eye.
nausea & vomiting.
loss of appetite.
rashes develop on the feet or legs 3 to 4 days after the beginning of the fever.

Swelling and pain in muscles and joints.

The joint pain in the body has given dengue fever the name that is “breakbone fever”.The common symptoms of dengue fever may go in around 10 days, but complete recovery from dengue fever can take more than a month.

While the initial symptoms are similar to those in dengue, in dengue haemorrhagic fever, small purplish spots appear on the skin, which is caused by blood leaking out of the vessels. This is caused by the decrease in platelets, the cells in blood that help to stop bleeding. The smallest blood vessels (capillaries) become excessively permeable (leaky) allowing the fluid component to escape from the blood vessels to organs of the body. As the disease progresses, large bruises appear on the patient’s body and bleeding happens in the stomach with the patient vomiting blood. Severe haemorrhage may lead to failure of the circulatory system and shock, which might also cause death.

What is the treatment for dengue?
Like most viral diseases, there is no specific cure for dengue. Antibiotics do not help and generally paracetamol is the drug of choice to bring down fever and joint pain. Other medicines like aspirin and brufen /aspirin or any medicine that can decrease the platelet count should be avoided, since they can increase the risk of bleeding. As it has no specific medication, most patients with Dengue fever can be treated at home. It is advised to take rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious diet and stay in constant touch with a physician.

DHF, however, requires hospitalization. Apart from this, it is also possible to get dengue more than once, as the disease is caused by four different but related strains of the virus and being affected by one strain offers no protection against the others.

What are the danger signs to rush the patient to hospital ?
Dengue is a self limiting disease all patients need not to be admitted. The initial treatment may be initiated at home. paracetamol is a safe drug. pt should take plenty of water. If patient develops any of this warning signs he/she must be rushed to the hospital.

· Severe continuous stomach pains.
· Skin becomes pale,cold.
· Bleeding from nose,mouth,gums and skin rashes
· Frequent vomiting with or without blood.
· Sleepiness and restlessness.
· Rapid weak pulse
· Difficulty in breathing

What can be done to reduce the risk of acquiring dengue?
The virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. There must be a person-to-mosquito-to-another-person pathway.Infected humans are the main carriers and multipliers of the virus, serving as a source of the virus for the mosquitoes. The viruses are transmitted from human to human through the bites of the female Aedes mosquitoes, which acquire it while feeding on the blood of an infected person. Hence the only way to prevent the outbreak of the disease is community-based mosquito control by eliminating the places where the mosquito lays her eggs. The mosquito primarily breeds in man-made containers like earthenware jars, metal drums and concrete cisterns, discarded plastic food containers, used automobile tyres and other items that collect rainwater. The best way to prevent the disease is by not allowing the mosquito to breed and using repellents for decreasing the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.

Personal prophylactic measures

· Use of mosquito repellent creams,liquids,coils,mats etc
· Wearing full sleeve shirts and full pants with socks during the transmission season
· Use of bed nets for sleeping during day time to prevent mosquito bite

Dr. Amitabh khanna is senior consultant physician practicing in dwarka. He is president of Indian Medical association of Dwarka and is doing lot of work for awareness of these infectious diseases in dwarka.

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Note: Please forward this information/ e-mail to your contacts to help them in early detection of DENGUE through above symptoms.

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