Dengue fever is a viral illness transmitted through mosquito bites. The tiger mosquito, named as such because of its striped legs, is the culprit. However, once a mosquito bites an infected person, it will actually take days for the virus to breed within the mosquito.
Severe dengue cases can lead to damage to the brain from encephalitis, the heart (carditis), liver (hepatitis) and in rare instances, damage to the kidney (nephritis). The disease is very prevalent in tropical countries. Here are some facts on dengue, presented in a clear and straightforward way like all of o5.com’s recipes for life.
Types of dengue
There are two types of dengue fever: classic dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic. A person with the first type of dengue fever will experience the symptoms of the illness but there will not be a big decrease in platelet count and recovery is most likely to occur more quickly. A patient with dengue hemorrhagic however will suffer not just from the symptoms, but from a decrease in platelet count, which can result in bleeding, organ failure, and eventually death.
Dengue is a serious problem, Read the World Health Organization’s report on dengue cases.
How is dengue transmitted?
Dengue is transmitted through mosquito bites, when the insect bites an infected person and then carries the disease to his next ‘lunch victim.’ This means it will also take days before the mosquito can actually transmit the virus to another person.
Why is dengue common in tropical countries?
The tiger or ‘Aedes’ mosquito unfortunately thrives tropical weather. Also known as day-biting mosquitoes (they sleep all night ), they also breed in stagnant fresh water and rain water. This is why you must be vigilant in keeping your household areas clean and absent of any stagnant water in flower pots, vases, tires and puddles. Stagnant water allows the mosquito enough time to breed, hatch and grow into an adult mosquito—and only adult mosquitoes become carriers of the virus.
There are no vaccines against dengue. That’s why prevention is crucial.
Keep your home and garden free of stagnant water. Use repellants and protective clothing. Here are some practical tips.
1. Get rid of all stagnant water. Do a once over of all areas of your home—inside and out. Look inside every flower vase and plant box and make sure to empty the old water and replace with fresh water everyday. Are there puddles in your garden or garage? If you find any, sweep these away.
2. Check all your screens. If you find any holes, repair and replace as needed.
3. Use mosquito nets. If you haven’t had time to repair those old screens, make sure to shield yourselves from mosquito nets.
4. Cover up. Protective clothing is a must if you think you will be going to areas where you and your family will be at risk. Wear pants, long sleeves, and socks.
5. Use repellants. There are various mosquito repellants in the market today. Make sure to bring some along if you think you will be in places that will increase your risk for dengue.
6. Keep yourself and your family healthy. If the immune system is strong, it can fight against viruses and can shorten the period of illness. So make sure everyone gets enough sleep, eats healthy, and takes multi-vitamins.
Symptoms of dengue
1. High-grade fever for three to five days. If your child has had a high fever (38.5 C and up) for the last three to five days, you may suspect the cause to be dengue fever. The fever is usually continuously high, but can sometimes be bi-phasic (wherein the fever may be high for the first three days, then will vanish on the fourth day, and then will recur on the fifth day onwards.
2. Pain around, inside or behind the eyes
3. Nausea and/or vomiting
4. Abdominal discomfort
6. Muscle aches and pains. Also known as ‘break bone disesase’ patients with dengue usually suffer from pain in the joints and bones, making them feel like their bones are being crushed. Similar to how you feel when you have the flu, but worse.
7. Red spots in the lower extremities or measles-like red rashes all over the body. Both spots and rashes are flat and can be itchy.
Dengue can be deceptive. In 9 out of 10 cases the platelet count will go down when the fever has subsided, during the time when you think you may be getting better. This is why your doctor would advise you to stay in the hospital to monitor your platelet count even if your fever has gone down or is no longer there.
Photo from topnews.ae