Dengue fever is a well-known disease that is transmitted through bites from Aedes mosquitoes. Also known as breakbone fever, it is caused by four different viruses.
There are two types of Aedes mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both can be found throughout the world.
The problem with this disease is that there are no current vaccines for it. There are only preventive measures to avoid getting the disease, mainly by avoiding getting bitten aside from a few other measures mentioned below.
Many people contract a mild form of dengue which is not dangerous. However, there are two types of dengue that require a patient to be hospitalized – DSS (Dengue Shock Syndrome) and DHF (Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever). If diagnosis is performed before the two symptoms occur, then treatment is possible; otherwise it is fatal as seen in many cases.
It is estimated that around 40 percent of the world’s population live in places that put them at risk of contracting dengue fever.
It would take around 4 to 7 days after a mosquito bite for the symptoms to first show. The symptoms start to emerge 4 – 7 days after being bitten, vary according to the severity of the disease and could last as long as 10 days.
Mild dengue fever
These symptoms can last for 7 days after being bitten. These symptoms are usually
- high fever
- intense headaches or migraine
- body aches especially at joints and muscles
- body rash that comes and goes
- pain behind the eyes, especially when you move your eyes
Mild dengue rarely involves any serious complication as the symptoms are expected to disappear after a week. Symptoms can be treated with medication and mild dengue does not require hospitalization.
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF)
DHF will show mild symptoms at first but is expected to worsen gradually within a few days. Signs of internal bleeding is expected in DHF. Symptoms of DHF are:
- damp or clammy skin
- internal bleeding, which can show up as black vomit and feces
- a low blood platelet count
- severe abdominal pain or sensitive stomach
- bleeding from the mouth, gums, or nose
- low pulse rate
- patches of blood spots (rash) under the skin indicative of bleeding
- damaged lymph and blood vessels
DHF will be fatal without proper treatment
Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS)
DSS is considered the most severe type of dengue and has a high fatality rate. The symptoms of mild dengue fever will be present along with other symptoms:
- heavy bleeding
- blood vessels leaking fluid
- unbearable abdominal pain
- sudden hypertension, or a fast drop in blood pressure
- frequent vomiting
The death rate is very high, even with the patient receiving medical intervention.
There is no cure for dengue but one can take steps to lessen the symptoms.
For milder cases of dengue, treatment includes:
Proper Hydration: A high fever and constant vomiting will dehydrate the body. This is something that should be avoided. The person should drink plenty of water, ideally filtered or bottled rather than tap water.
Rehydration salts can also help replace fluids and minerals that were lost from vomiting.
Painkillers: Painkillers like tylenol or paracetamol can help lower fever and ease pain when going through dengue.
For DHF and DSS, treatment is usually by IV (intravenous fluid) administered by way of a drip if the person is unable to drink. For patients suffering severe dehydration and internal bleeding, blood transfusions may be necessary.
Hospitalization is the most practical step to take once one is diagnosed with dengue as the individual can be monitored and be properly treated in case symptoms rapidly worsen.
Dealing with the mosquitos from the start can prevent all this trouble. Using repellent and wearing suitable protective clothing while going outside is a good start. Install insect screens on doors and windows and open areas to keep mozzies out. Keeping in mind what time of day you go out can help you avoid getting bitten, as mosquitoes tend to come out during dawn and at dusk. Clearing off stagnant water will prevent mosquitos from reproducing. Worse comes to worse, use a water-based (not aerosol) bug spray.
4th May 18:00