Did you know, an estimated 400 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year resulting millions in illness?
Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating mosquito-borne disease caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses.
In other words, it is an infection caused by mosquitoes that can lead to severe fever and illness.
Mild dengue fever causes a high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain as well.
However, a severe form of dengue fever, also called as dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure and sometimes death.
Researchers around the world are working on dengue fever vaccines.
However, for now the only option to remain safe is to reduce mosquito habitat in areas where dengue is common.
Below is a complete guideline about dengue you should know to prevent yourself from having one.
Signs and Symptoms of Dengue Fever
When symptoms do occur, they usually being four to seven days after a dengue infected mosquito bites you.
Sometimes, symptoms are mild and people mistake it for those of the flu or another viral infection.
Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs and symptoms during a mild case.
However, serious problems can develop when the dengue fever starts to become severe.
These include dengue hemorrhagic fever, a rare complication characterized by high fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, bleeding from the nose and gums and enlargement of the liver.
Like said earlier, the symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death if not treated well.
People with weakened immune system as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are at higher risk of dengue fever.
Some specific signs and symptoms includes:
- High fever
- Severe headaches
- Pain behind the eyes
- Skin rash
- Mild bleeding
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Clammy skin
- Damage to lymph and blood vessels
- Sensitive stomach
- Weak pulse
Generally, there are four dengue viruses that causes dengue fever.
They are all spread by a species of mosquito known as Aedes aegypti, and more rarely by the Aedes albopictus mosquito.
Basically, the viruses jumped from monkeys to humans between 100 and 800 years ago, according to the CDC.
However, dengue remained a minor problem until the middle of the twentieth century.
Aedes aegypti originated in Africa, but nowadays it is found in tropical areas around the world.
Dengue fever is result of any one of the four dengue viruses as mentioned above spread by mosquitoes that thrive in and near human lodgings.
When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito.
Later, when the infected mosquito bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream.
After you’ve recovered from dengue, you have immunity to the type of virus that infected you but not to the other three virus types.
So, the risk of developing dengue fever increases when you get infected by dengue for second, third or fourth time.
Dengue fever is most common in subtropical and tropical areas such as Central and South America, parts of Africa, parts of Asia, and the Pacific.
Some of the high-risk regions of are Central and South America, The Caribbean, Tropical Asia, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, and parts of China, and Northern Australia.
Unlike malaria, dengue can happen in both urban and rural areas, but mostly people in rural areas have high chance of getting infected.
Additionally, previous infections with virus also increases your risk of having severe symptoms if you’re infected again.
When to See A Doctor
Go to the nearest emergency room if you’ve recently visited a region in which dengue fever is known to occur and you have developed emergency symptoms.
Those symptoms could include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or blood in your nose.
If you develop a fever and milder symptoms common to dengue fever, you can call a doctor.
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue fever or dengue infections.
If you think you might have dengue fever, you should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid medicines with aspirin.
Additionally, you should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and see your doctor.
If you start to feel worse in the first 24 hours after your fever goes down, you should get to a hospital immediately to be checked for complications.
Prevention of Dengue Fever
Dengvaxia, a dengue fever virus is currently approved for use in those ages 9 to 45 who live in areas with a high incidence of fever.
The vaccine is given in three doses over the course of 12 months.
This vaccine prevents dengue infections slightly more than half the time.
Dengvaxia is approved only for older children because younger vaccinated children appear to be at increased risk of sever dengue fever and hospitalization two years after receiving the vaccine.
According to The World Health Organization, the vaccines is not an effective tool, on its own, to reduce dengue fever.
However, controlling the mosquito population and human exposure is still the most critical part to reduce it.
Hence, if you are living or travelling in areas where dengue fever is best known, the best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
So, to do that you need to keep your surrounding as much clean as you can so no any mosquito can make their habitat near your place.
These are some of the tips that may help you reduce the chances of having dengue fever:
- When you go into mosquito infected areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt or long pants, socks and shoes.
- When indoors, use air conditioning if available
- Structural barriers, such as screens or netting can keep mosquitoes out.
- Avoid using heavily scented soaps and perfumes that attracts mosquitoes.
- Use mosquito repellent to your clothes, shoes, camping gear and bed netting.
- Try to avoid being outside at dawn, dusk, and early evening.
- Remove excess water from plant pot plates
- Change the water in flower vases every second day and scrub and rinse the vase
- Turn buckets and watering cans over and store them under shelter so that water cannot accumulate
- Keep standing water containers covered between cleanings