What is dengue?
Dengue fever is an infection caused by a virus, most commonly seen in Southeast Asia, Pacific islands in the west, and recently in Latin America and the Caribbean. There are four serotypes of Dengue virus and any can cause infection. The virus can survive in mosquitoes, which is their natural host vector. Humans get the infection from the bite of an infected mosquito.
There are another severe forms of dengue infection known as the Dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.
What are the causes of the disorder?
Dengue fever is caused by any one of the four dengue viruses through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus enters a mosquito when it bites a person already infected with the virus and gets transmitted when the mosquito bites another uninfected person.
An infection with one type of dengue virus only confers immunity against virus, but not against the other three. In fact, the risk of developing the more severe dengue haemorrhagic fever increases in a person already infected earlier.
What one needs to know about Dengue signs and symptoms?
A mild case of dengue fever may not manifest any symptoms, especially in children. However, symptoms, when the appear, begin between four and ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They include:
- High fever (up to 106 F)
- Muscle, joint and bone aches
- Headache, pain behind the eye
- Nausea and vomiting
Which specialist should be consulted in case of signs and symptoms?
Person experiencing the above symptoms should consult a general physician, who may then refer him/her to a doctor specialising in infectious diseases, if dengue is suspected.
What are the screening tests and investigations done to confirm or rule out the disorder?
Dengue is diagnosed with a blood test that looks for virus or antibodies made by the body against it.
What treatment modalities are available for management of the disorder?
No specific antiviral medication exists yet for treating dengue fever. Severe cases are hospitalised to stabilise body temperature and fluids. Patient is recommended the following:
- Pain relievers
- Plenty of rest
- Oral or intravenous rehydration fluids (maintaining proper balance of fluids is crucial) and blood transfusion for very severe cases
What are the known complications in management of the disorder?
A small number of cases do not show decline of symptoms and go on to develop a severe form of dengue fever known as dengue haemorrhagic fever. A previous dengue infection increases its risk. Symptoms include:
- Disappearance of fever
- Intense abdominal pain
- Bleeding through nose, stools, mouth
Another complication of dengue fever is the dengue shock syndrome, seen as a sudden drop in blood pressure (weak pulse, dry mouth, cold skin)
Is there any risk to other family members of having the disorder?
No. Dengue virus cannot transmit from one human to another; it requires a mosquito carrier.
How can the disorder be prevented from happening or recurring?
Currently there is no vaccine to prevent dengue virus infection. The best prevention measure would be to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito. Once infected, early diagnosis and prompt medical help can lower the risk of complications.
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“Dengue Fever,” WebMD.com, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dengue-fever-reference
“Dengue,” WHO.int, World Health Organisation, https://www.who.int/topics/dengue/en/
“Dengue,” MedlinePlus, NLM, NIH, https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dengue.html
“Dengue,” CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Dengue Branch, https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/
“Dengue fever,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dengue-fever/basics/definition/con-20032868
“Dengue,” NHS.uk, https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/dengue/Pages/Introduction.aspx