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Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, Complications, And Vaccines

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Dengue Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, Complications, And Vaccines

Internal Medicine | Posted on 05/11/2020 by Dr. Sushil Kalra

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by four closely related viruses related, which spread through the Aedes mosquitoes. The fever is spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito that is carrying the dengue virus. This species of mosquito can breed inside or outside the house in containers holding water and do not have the capacity to fly more than 200 meters away from its place of birth. The Aedes Mosquito is most active during the early hours of the morning and before sunset. Dengue fever is extremely painful, and debilitating and often causes high fever, along with headache and extreme muscle or joint pain.

Every year, more than 400 million cases of dengue infections are recorded worldwide, with most cases centered in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, Taiwan, Mexico, Africa, The Pacific Islands, and Central and South America. This widespread disease can cause severe problems if not diagnosed and treated within the stipulated time. Hence, it is important to be completely aware of the disease.

Causes of Dengue Fever

Dengue is spread via a particular species of mosquito known as Aedes that transmits four closely related dengue viruses called as DENV. The Aedes mosquito transfers the virus into a human being by bite, thereafter the chain continues when a normal mosquito bites the dengue-infected person, it becomes a carrier of the virus and it spreads further. The Aedes mosquito can breed inside or outside the house in containers that hold water for a long, but they do not breed in pools, creeks, or other water bodies.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever can cause serious health complications and in severe cases can be fatal, if not detected and treated on time. Some common symptoms that can help detect dengue fever are:

  • Unexplained, sudden high fever
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rash on the skin
  • Rashes on the eyes
  • Severe weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Acute bone, joint, and muscle pain
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Mild bleeding
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Swollen glands

Sometimes, the symptoms are mild and hence, are considered to be indications of flu, fever, or a normal infection. That said, dengue symptoms tend to appear after 4 to 7 days of the bite from the infected mosquito. However, usually, a person tends to recover from dengue fever within a week but for cases, where the symptoms intensify – dengue fever can become life-threatening because of several reasons including leakage or damage in blood vessels and dropping of platelets. This stage of dengue fever is also known as dengue shock syndrome where the patient would need immediate medical help.

A few symptoms that can help identify a severe case of dengue fever include:

  • Intense abdominal pain
  • Consistent nausea and vomiting
  • Bleeding from gums, nose, or under the skin
  • Blood in urine or vomit
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pacing heartbeats
  • Ice cold skin
  • Unexplained restlessness

One important thing to remember is that it is possible for a person who has previously been infected by the dengue virus to again get the dengue infection, and the second time would be harsher.

Treatment for Dengue Fever

The first step of the treatment would be the detection of the dengue virus which is done via blood tests. Once detected, depending on the severity of the case, a further course of treatment is suggested. That said, there is no particular medication to directly treat dengue. Mild cases of dengue fever can take painkillers that have acetaminophen or paracetamol components, and strictly avoid any aspirin-containing medicines. In any case, contacting a doctor is a must to know the intensity of the infection. Meanwhile, you should take rest and increase your intake of more fluids. For cases, where symptoms intensify, immediate medical attention is needed.

Prevention of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is a result of the bite of the Aedes mosquito; thus, the best course of preventing dengue is to stop the birth and breeding of the Aedes mosquito. The following preventive methods can help stop the breeding of dengue carriers:

  • Get rid of any containers placed under the air conditioners or coolers
  • Do not store water in containers – inside or outside – and leave them open
  • Maintain distance from anything that has stored clear stagnant water
  • Change the feeding bowls for pets
  • Pour fresh water into flower vases every day
  • Remove any excess water in flower pots or plates
  • Check your water tanks for proper seal
  • Use mosquito repellents and mosquito nets all the time
  • Wear fully-covered clothes
  • Use air conditioners to keep mosquitoes away
  • Keep all windows and doors closed
  • Do not apply strong perfumes or soaps, since smell attracts mosquitoes
  • Do not walk outside at dawn or dusk
  • Do not take shelter under the trees at dawn or dusk

Further, protect the patient (from any further mosquito bite) that has been infected by the virus, since that could cause the spreading of the virus if the infected mosquito, in turn, bit another person. 

Complications of Dengue Fever

In severe cases of dengue fever, the symptoms can intensify and cause damage to the heart, lungs, or liver. The blood pressure can drop severely low, leading to shock and death in some extreme cases.

Vaccines for Dengue Fever

As of now, there are no vaccines available in India to prevent dengue fever.

That said proper measures to prevent the dengue virus and in cases of dengue fever, timely detection and adequate treatment can ensure that the person recovers smoothly and quickly without any serious health problems. Awareness is the key to fighting dengue fever.