Dengue Fever

Facts You Need To Know About Dengue Fever

What is dengue?

Dengue is a disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by a virus called arbovirus which means an arthropod-borne virus. It causes severe joint and muscle pain and is thus, also called at times as the break-bone fever. The dengue fever occurs mainly in two forms, dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever. It is mostly prevalent in the tropical countries.

How can you get infected?

It occurs when a mosquito carrying the virus bites a human and passes on the virus. Once in the body, the virus travels to various glands and multiplies and enters the bloodstream. This virus, however, cannot be transmitted between two people but needs a mosquito as the intermediate vector to spread it.

How does the virus infect you?

As the virus enters the blood stream, it causes changes in the blood vessels causing it to swell and leak. The spleen and lymph nodes become enlarged causing some liver tissue patches die. What follows is called as disseminated intravascular coagulation where chemicals responsible for clotting are used up leading to a risk of haemorrhage and severe bleeding conditions.

What are the initial symptoms?

The disease attacks with what is called the "dengue triad" of sudden fever, rash and headache. Further on, the fever is marked with the onset of a sore throat, restlessness, nausea, black stool due to GI bleeding, lower back pain, enlarged lymph nodes, red eyes, a red flush to the face, and pain behind eyes, joints and muscles.

What are the follow-up symptoms?

After the initial symptoms for two-three days, the patient gets a small red bumpy rash on arms, legs, chest, abdomen and back.

What are the dengue haemorrhagic fever symptoms?

Dengue haemorrhagic fever occurs in a more severe format accompanied with bleeding and sometimes leads to death. This fever is more prevalent among children and the bleeding is seen to occur mostly after 3-5 days after the onset of the fever. Here the high fever hovers around 103F-105F and the patient suffer from discomfort and weakness.

What are the preferred lab methods for testing?

There are mainly four laboratory methods to diagnose dengue infection. They are called as NS1 Antigen, viral isolation in culture, detection of viral RNA by PCR technique and specific lgM/lgG antibodies in paired area. Dengue NS1 however, is the preferred test as it detects almost 80% cases in the first day itself.

How long will the fever last?

Even if people recover from the dengue within a week or so, the body fatigue and weakness last for several weeks.

How can you prevent Dengue?

  • Check dengue patients from going to crowded places like school, offices, malls, etc.
  • Wear full sleeved clothes and avoid wearing dark coloured clothes
  • Use a mosquito repellent spray, lotion or screen during day time too
  • Dengue mosquitoes bite during the day, so while sleeping during afternoon opt for mosquito netting over the bed.
  • Avoid leaving open standing water in containers or wells and ditches. Either cover them with a tight lid or add a few drops of petrol to deprive mosquitoes breeding in that spot.
  • Avoid dehydration by consuming fluids like water, coconut water, lemonade, etc.
  • If you are having a fever that lasts more than two days, consult the doctor immediately.

How to take care post-dengue?

Dengue fever damages a patients' immunity to a large extent so that the patient becomes vulnerable to several other diseases. The patient should follow hygienic living, healthy eating habits, practice some light exercise regularly and include high minerals, protein, vitamins in their diet for the next six months for best results.

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