Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, and a characteristic rash. In severe cases, dengue fever can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, and the best way to prevent it is to avoid mosquito bites.
Dengue fever causes
Dengue fever is caused by a virus that is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The mosquito becomes infected when it feeds on the blood of a person who has the dengue virus in their bloodstream. Once a mosquito is infected, it can then spread the virus to other people it bites. The virus can also be spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from a mother to her baby during childbirth, but these are less common.
Dengue fever symptoms
Dengue fever symptoms usually appear within 3-14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms can range from mild to severe and include: -Fever and chills -Headache, especially behind the eyes -Joint and muscle pain -Fatigue -Nausea and vomiting -Skin rash, which appears 2-5 days after the fever starts -Mild bleeding (such as nosebleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)
In some cases, more severe symptoms may develop, such as: -Severe abdominal pain -Vomiting of blood -Rapid breathing -Bleeding from the gums or nose -Fatigue -Restlessness -Cold and clammy skin -Bloody urine -Black, tarry stools
Dengue fever prevention
The best way to prevent dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Some ways to do this include: -Using mosquito repellent: When spending time outdoors, use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET or picaridin. -Wearing protective clothing: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors, especially during peak mosquito-biting hours (dawn and dusk). -Keeping mosquitoes out of your home: Use screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out, and fix any holes or tears in screens. Use air conditioning if available. -Eliminating standing water: Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so eliminate any standing water around your home, such as in flowerpots, buckets, or old tires. -Getting rid of mosquito breeding sites: Support the community efforts on preventing mosquitoes breeding by eliminating any potential breeding site like open septic tanks or blocked drains.
Vaccines are also available in some regions for dengue fever prevention, it’s important to consult with your doctor or health authorities if it is available in your area.
Dengue fever treatment
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment for dengue fever typically includes: -Getting plenty of rest -Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration -Taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce fever and relieve aches and pains.
It is important to avoid taking aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as these can increase the risk of bleeding, which can be a complication of dengue fever.
In severe cases, hospitalization may be required to provide fluids through an intravenous (IV) line, and to monitor for warning signs of complications such as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome.
Dengue fever diagnosis
Diagnosis of dengue fever is typically made based on a combination of a person’s symptoms, medical history, and laboratory tests.
Symptoms of dengue fever include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, and a characteristic rash. A doctor may also ask about other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and mild bleeding (such as nosebleeds or easy bruising).
To confirm the diagnosis, laboratory tests can be done on blood samples to detect the presence of the dengue virus or antibodies to the virus. These tests may include: -Serum neutralization test -ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) -RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction)
It’s also important to rule out other illnesses that may have similar symptoms, such as malaria, leptospirosis, and typhoid fever.