Any one of the four closely related dengue viruses can cause a severe and debilitating mosquito-borne disease known as dengue fever. Viruses that cause West Nile and yellow fever are related to these viruses.
Dengue fever kills an estimated 96 million people around the world each year, with an estimated 400 million infections each year. Tropical regions of the world are most at risk, with the biggest number of cases occurring:
- The Indian subcontinent
- Southeast Asia
- Southern China
- The Pacific Islands
- The Caribbean (except Cuba and the Cayman Islands)
- Central and South America (except Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina)
In the United States, a large number of cases are the result of people who contracted the disease while on vacation. People in the southern United States, particularly those who live near the Texas-Mexico border, are increasingly at risk. Dengue fever was discovered in Hawaii in 2014, following outbreaks in Brownsville, Texas, and Key West, Florida, in 2013.
An Aedes mosquito infected with the dengue virus transmits the disease. Getting bitten by a dengue-infected person is what infects the mosquito. One person cannot pass it on to another without the other person becoming infected as well.
Symptoms Of Dengue Fever
Following infection, symptoms usually appear four to six days later and can last for up to ten days.
- Sudden, high fever
- Severe headaches
- Pain behind the eyes
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever
- Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)
In certain cases, flu-like symptoms can be confused for those of a more serious viral illness. Children and others who have never had the disease previously are likely to have milder cases than those who have had it before. However, there may be major issues that arise. As a result, there is an extremely rare condition known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is characterized by an elevated temperature and a wide range of symptoms. Shock, major bleeding, and death are all possible outcomes of this condition. Dengue shock syndrome is the term for this (DSS).
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is more common in people with compromised immune systems and those who have had a second or subsequent dengue infection.
The Diagnosis of Dengue
A blood test can be used to detect the presence of the dengue virus or antibodies to it. Notify your physician if you fall ill after visiting a tropical location. Doctors may utilize this information in order to determine whether or not your symptoms are the result of dengue fever.
Dengue Fever Medical Care
Dengue is a disease that does not have a specific treatment. If you suspect you have dengue fever, acetaminophen-based pain treatments should be used and aspirin-based medications should be avoided. Besides resting and drinking a lot of water, you should also see your doctor. In the first 24 hours after your fever has subsided, you should seek quick medical attention if you begin to feel unwell.
Assuring The Safety Of Dengue Fever
If you live in or visit a tropical climate, the best approach to avoid contracting the disease is to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes. This includes taking precautions to keep mosquitoes at bay, as well as making an attempt to reduce their population. Dengvaxia, a vaccine licensed by the FDA in 2019, can protect adolescents aged 9 to 16 who have already been infected with dengue from contracting the disease. A vaccine for the general population does not exist at this time.
In order to keep yourself safe from dengue, follow these steps:
- Even in the house, use insect repellents.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants with your socks tucked in when you’re out and about.
- If you’re going to be indoors, try to stay cool using an air conditioner.
- A secure and hole-free screen for windows and doors is a must. Use mosquito netting if your sleeping quarters aren’t air-conditioned or screen-enclosed.
- If you see any of the signs of dengue fever, see your doctor.
- Reduce the mosquito population by eradicating potential breeding grounds.
- Old tires, cans, and flower pots can all be used to store rainwater. Change the water in birdbaths and pet bowls on a regular basis.