Unlike bacterial diseases which can be easily controlled by using antibiotics, viral diseases are hard to control. They get cured only through activation of the immune system of the body.
Here is an overview of Dengue fever, a viral disease.
What is Dengue Fever?
Many people know about the symptoms of dengue fever but are not aware of its causative agent and how it spreads. So, what is Dengue fever? The fever that develops due to transmission of dengue virus by the Adeds Aegypti mosquito is termed as Dengue fever or the dandy fever. This low flying mosquito bites only during day time. It flourishes during rainy season by breeding in water logged locations. Hence, if you are living in a high rise apartment with plenty of sunlight and air flow then you are at low risk of having dengue fever.
Dengue fever is commonly seen in tropical and subtropical regions. People with poor immune system are at increased risk of this viral fever. However, an attack by a specific viral serotype confers life time resistance for that viral strain. But, the person continues to be at the risk of other serotypes of the dengue virus.
The dengue fever virus cannot spread directly from person to person. It can only spread through mosquito from person to person.
Dengue Fever Causes and Risk Factors
The only causative agent for dengue fever is the infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. When this infected mosquito bites a person then he will get infected with any one of the four serotypes of dengue virus. The four serotypes of the dengue virus belonging to the genus Flavivirus include DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR DENGUE FEVER?
- Living in areas with poor mosquito control and where there is outbreak of dengue fever.
- Repeated infection with different serotypes of the dengue virus.
- Travelling to places where there is an endemic outbreak of dengue.
- People with poor immune system.
Dengue Fever Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of dengue fever start to show after a period of three to fifteen days of being bitten by a virus carrying mosquito.
The characteristic symptoms of dengue fever include
- Painful and reddened eyes.
- Severe lower back pain.
- Liver damage and painful joints.
Few people show bleeding gums and nose. Due to increased death of RBCs, the affected person may vomit brown colored substance and even the stool changes color to black.
The temperature shows a steep rise of up to 104F and the heart rate slows. As a result the blood pressure too drops. Lymph glands located in the neck and groin regions become swollen.
After these initial set of symptoms that remain for 2-4 days, the fever drops down rapidly only to start a second set of symptoms. The body temperature remains normal for about one day and again rises rapidly. The second set of symptoms includes appearance of rashes in the extremities of the body which slowly spreads throughout the body except the face.
Dengue Fever Complications
- Dengue hemorrhagic fever is the chronic condition of the dengue fever that develops after 2-6 days of initial set of symptoms. It is seen among children below ten years of age. In addition to the mentioned symptoms, the effected child shows symptoms such as internal hemorrhage, respiratory problems, sore throat, cough and failure of blood circulation. The platelet count starts falling and the internal organs also get affected.
- Dengue shock syndrome which is characterized by above symptoms and shock. In some cases, it may even lead to death if there is no proper care.
Dengue Fever Diagnosis
As the symptoms of Dengue fever are similar to other types of fever such as the Chikungunya fever it is hard to say that a particular person is suffering with dengue fever by just physical observation and the symptoms.
The test named DENV Detect IgM Capture ELISA test is used to test the patient’s blood sample for the presence of dengue fever causing virus. Other tests that are used for detection of dengue virus include
- Dengue viral plaque reduction test.
- PCR test.
Treatment of Dengue Fever
- Being a viral fever there is no specific antibiotic or treatment for dengue fever. To keep the symptoms under control, the patient should be given plenty of rest, fluids and nutritious diet. The fever subsides slowly with proper care.
- Patients with drop in platelet count should be given platelet transfusion to prevent the failure of internal organs.
- The patient should not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as they worsen the bleeding problems.
- Even after the symptoms subside, the patient should continue to take care for several weeks for complete recovery and to restore the platelet count to normal levels.
- People affected with dengue hemorrhagic fever should be given immediate treatment to prevent total lapse of internal organs and finally death. To maintain the platelet count, the patient should be given immediate platelet transfusion and blood transfusion. All intensive care measures should be taken to support life.
Prevention of Dengue Fever
- The only way to protect from the virus is keeping the surroundings clean to keep the mosquitoes under control. It is highly recommended to use mosquito nets to prevent mosquito bites.
- To keep the mosquito population under control, release fishes such as Gambusia fish that feed on mosquito larvae in water bodies.
- Mosquito coils and vaporizing mats can be used to keep the rooms free of mosquitoes.
However, few of the insecticides and mosquito repellents may contain pesticides which are not safe to inhale. Hence, use them cautiously.
Currently, there is no vaccine to get protected from the dengue virus. However, scientists are working hard to discover vaccine for dengue fever that offers protection against the four serotypes of dengue virus.
Lastly, do take immediate medical care rather than simply relying on home care. Home care is only supportive in case of dengue fever. Chronic conditions such as the Dengue hemorrhagic fever are considered as medical emergencies. With proper care and medical support it is very easy to cure dengue fever.
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