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Be Aware of Dengue: A Mosquito-borne Disease

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection that can lead to severe flu-like illness. This tropical disease is caused by four different viruses and spread to humans by female Aedes mosquitoes. Dengue is pronounced as DENgee is also known as painful breakbone fever.

Symptoms fluctuate from mild to severe. Severe symptoms include dengue shock syndrome (DSS) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). These may usually require hospitalization. There are no vaccines currently. The best method of prevention is to stay away from mosquito bites. Treatment may be possible if diagnosis occurs before the patient develops severe symptoms like DSS or DHF.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says an estimation of 400 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

The disease symptoms usually begin 4 to 6 days after infection and may last up to 10 days with the following symptoms:

1. Flu syndrome with high fever;

2. Slow heart rate;

3. Hypotension;

4. Anorexia;

5. Headache, pain behind the eyes;

6. Rash on the cheeks;

7. Severe muscular and joint pains;

8. Fatigue;

9. Nausea;

10. Vomiting;

11. Mild bleeding (such as nose bleed, bleeding gums).

At times, symptoms are mild and can be mistaken for those of the flu or another viral infection. Younger children and people who have never had the infection before tend to have fewer cases than older children and adults. Although, serious problems may arise includes dengue hemorrhagic fever, a rare symptom characterized by high fever, damage to blood vessels and lymph nodes, enlargement of the liver, and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may develop to massive bleeding, shock, and death. This is known as dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

People with low immunity, those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are firmly believed to be at higher risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Diagnosing Dengue Fever

Your doctor can diagnose dengue infection with a blood test to check for the virus. let your doctor know if you become sick after traveling to a tropical area. This will help your doctor to evaluate the symptoms that were caused by a dengue infection.

Treatment for Dengue Fever

According to experts, there is no particular medicine to treat dengue infection. If you think you may have dengue fever, you should use pain relievers and avoid medicines containing aspirin, which could worsen bleeding. You should rest enough, drink plenty of fluids, and consult your doctor. Moreover, if you feel worse symptoms in the first 24 hours after your fever drops down, you should get to a hospital right away.

Preventing Dengue Fever

However, the optimal way to prevent the disease is to prevent bites by infected mosquitoes, particularly if you are living in a tropical area. This involves protecting yourself and making efforts to minimize the mosquito-free population. In 2019, the FDA approved a vaccine called Dengvaxia to prevent the disease in teenagers aged 9 to 16 who have already been infected by dengue. But, currently, there is no vaccine to prevent the general population from infection.

Points Protect Yourself:

a. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks, when outdoors.

b. When indoors, use mosquito repellents, air conditioning if available.

c. Ensure window and door screens are secure with no holes. use mosquito nets, if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned.

d. If you feel the symptoms of dengue, consult your doctor.

e. To Minimize the mosquito population, avoid the places where mosquitoes can breed such as old tires, cans, or flower pots that collect rain.

f. If anyone in your family gets dengue fever, be especially vigilant about efforts to safeguard yourself and other family members from these dangerous mosquitoes. In addition, mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could proliferate the infection to others in your home.

Written by MedPlus