Dengue is a kind of fever that is caused by a mosquito bite. The dengue virus is transmitted by the mosquito into the blood stream of a healthy person. The symptoms do not manifest immediately but after a span of six to ten days after the infection.
How does the Fever spread?
When an Aedes mosquito bites a person with dengue virus, it carries the virus along with the blood. This infected mosquito bites a healthy person and passes the virus. The virus now spreads the infection and symptoms start showing after four to six days.
Symptoms you should look for
- The symptom the patient experience is sudden, high fever. Sometimes, it can be mild also.
- The fever is accompanied by severe headaches
- The other distinct symptoms are pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain.
- The person experiences fatigue and nausea.
Tests to confirm Dengue fever
A blood test is the base of detecting the fever. You can either detect the antigen or antibody to the virus in the blood stream. The NS1 antigen is detectable within 1 day of fever while the antibodies are detectable after 4-5 days. Another test which can be done within 2 days of fever onset is the Dengue PCR.
It is also taken into consideration whether it is a Primary infection or secondary infection. Primary infected are the persons who have contacted the disease for the first time. Secondary, on the other hand are those who already had a history of dengue. Secondary dengue is usually more severe than primary dengue. In this patient, along with NS1 antigen, IgG Antibodies are on the higher side.
Ancillary important investigations
CBC: To see the WBC and platelet count. The platelet count can fall to a very low level in dengue and can lead to bleeding, shock and even death.
As this fever is caused by a virus; there are no specific antiviral drugs. The treatment is done to control the symptoms such as fever, dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting.
Acetaminophen may be used to treat fever. Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids should not be given.
Patients should be given fluids in order to suppress the symptoms. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required wherein IV fluid hydration can be done. Additionally if required, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, blood pressure support need to be given.
Prevention is better than cure
As this is a viral disease, no particular treatment is prescribed. Whatever be the level of infection, only symptomatic treatment is done. So, it is wise to stop its onset rather than worry after it happens. This can be prevented if the following care is taken.
- Eliminating the habitat of the mosquitoes by emptying water that is in open containers.
- Disinfect the water if it has to be kept by adding insecticides.
- Wearing clothes that cover the entire body to prevent mosquito bites.
- Use of mosquito nets or insect repellent while resting.
Until December 2015, there has been no commercially available vaccine for this fever. There can be a ray of hope when the vaccine made in this context be tested positively and is made available. The vaccine presently been tested is Dengvaxia. The studies are encouraging as 60% are finding it effective and it was found that 80% -90% cases were prevented from getting aggravated.
All in all, this Dengue fever can be prevented with a little care and responsibility by the citizens. June 15th has been observed as International Anti-Dengue Day every year to increase the awareness about this disease.