What is dengue?

The causes of the infectious disease known as Dengue Fever are the four viruses named and numbered from DEN-1 through DEN-4. As their names suggest, the viruses are connected very closely. Humans are most commonly infected with Dengue Fever from mosquito bites. The species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti is the predominant vector of the dengue virus in the Western Hemisphere. An exception was the Dengue outbreak that occurred in Hawaii in 2001, which was transmitted by the species Aedes albopictus instead. There are approximately a hundred million instances of dengue every year all around the world.

The same viruses that cause Dengue Fever can produce a more critical manifestation of Dengue known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever, commonly abbreviated as DHF. Without treatment, Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever can result in death, but with prompt medical attention, the likelihood of death can be reduced significantly.

When a mosquito has bitten an individual infected with Dengue, the mosquito is able to spread the virus to other people after a short period of approximately one week. Fortunately, transmission of Dengue does not occur directly from one person to another.

The symptoms of Dengue include rash, vomiting, aches in the back, joints, eye pain, headaches, nausea, and high fever. Dengue tends to manifest less severely in young children than in adults. Symptoms of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever are more severe with fevers that can last up to a week. Haemorrhagic symptoms such as bleeding of the nose, bleeding gums, internal bleeding, bruising, and other skin haemorrhages can occur. DHF causes vulnerability of an individual’s blood vessels, thus, DHF can cause circulatory system failure or shock which can be fatal.

There is no prescription medication specifically designed for Dengue. Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you are experiencing Dengue. Your doctor will be able to recommend pain relievers with acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol. Avoid aspirin if you have Dengue. Be sure to incorporate resting and drinking plenty of fluids into your recovery.

Treatment for DHF usually requires hospitalization to manage the disease properly. While there is no medication designed specifically for DHF, fluid replacement therapy may benefit the patient. The Center for Disease Control has a dedicated branch for Dengue should doctors require more information on DHF.

Dengue outbreaks can occur in any tropical and urban locations around the globe because the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes inhabit such areas. Travelers who contract the virus while traveling can also introduce the virus to various areas. The Americas now have all types of the Dengue virus present since the DEN-3 was reintroduced in 1994 to Central America. DEN-3 has been absent for nearly 20 years from the Americas, making it extremely infectious currently.

Unfortunately, there is no preventative vaccine against Dengue. People in high risk areas should take caution against creating areas that foster mosquito eggs, such as containers of water. Articles that gather rain water are especially vulnerable and should be kept covered if absolutely necessary to maintain. If you have pets, clean their water dish at least once a week. The same goes for flower vases.

Reducing the mosquito population is vital to preventing Dengue. For travelers, utilize air conditioning when you can and screens on doors and windows. Insect repellents using DEET at a level of about 30% can also help. Use the repellent on skin and clothing. Avoid areas with epidemics of Dengue.

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