Author: Dr. Haripriya – Head of Pediatrics , Dr. Mehta’s Hospitals
Dengue(DENG – gey) fever is a mosquito borne disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Mild dengue causes a high fever, rash and muscle & joint pain. A severe form of dengue fever also called as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure and even death.
Researchers are working on dengue fever vaccines. For now the best prevention is to reduce mosquito habitat in areas where dengue fever is common.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever:
Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs or symptoms during mild case of dengue fever. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to seven days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Dengue Virus causes a high fever – 104F degrees – and atleast two of the following symptoms
– Muscle, bone and join pain
– Pain behind the eyes
– Swollen glands
Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, symptoms worsen and can become life threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky. And the number of platelets in the blood stream may drop. This can cause a severe form of dengue fever, called dengue hemorrhagic fever, severe dengue or dengue shock syndrome.
Factors that put you at a greater risk of developing dengue fever or a more severe form of the disease include
Living or travelling in tropical areas. Being in tropical and sub-tropical areas increase your risk of exposure to the virus that cause dengue fever.
Prior Infection with a dengue fever virus. Previous infection with a dengue fever virus increase your risk of having severe symptoms if you are infected again
Controlling the mosquito population and human exposure is still the most critical part of prevention efforts
So for now, if you are living or travelling in an area where dengue fever is known to be, the best way to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry disease.
Tips to Avoid Dengue Fever
If you are living or travelling in tropical areas where dengue fever is common, please follow these tips, it may help your risk of mosquito bites
Stay in air conditioned or well screened housing. The mosquitoes that carry the dengue viruses are most active from dawn to dusk, so they can also bite at night.
Wear Protective Clothing. When you go into mosquito infected areas , wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pant, shoes and socks.
Use Mosquito Repellent. Permethrin can be applied to your clothing, shoes, camping gear and bed netting. You can also buy clothing made with permethrin already. For your skin use a repellent containing atleast 10% concentration of DEET
Reduce Mosquito Habitat. The mosquitoes that carry dengue virus typically live in and around houses, breeding in stagnated water in automobile tyres, air-coolers, air conditioners and many more. You can lower mosquito population by eliminating the habitats where they lay their eggs. At least once a week, empty and clean containers that hold standing water such as planting containers, animal plates and flower vases. Keep standing water containers covered between cleanings.
Treatment for Dengue Fever
No specific treatment for dengue fever exists. Your doctor may recommend that you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration from vomiting and a high fever.
While recovering from dengue fever, watch for signs and symptoms of dehydration. Call your doctor right away if you develop any of the following
– Decreased urination
– Few or no tears
– Dry mouths or lips
– Lethargy or confusion
– Cold or clammy extremities
Acetaminophen ( tylenol, others) can alleviate pain and reduce fever. Avoid pain relievers that can increase bleeding complications – such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium ( Aleve, others)
If you have dengue fever, you may also need:
– Supportive care in the hospital
– Intravenous (IV) Fluid and electrolyte replacement
– Blood Pressure Monitoring
– Transfusion to replace blood loss