Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the dengue virus. It has become a global problem since the Second World War and is common in more than 120 countries, mainly in Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America. Dengue, which is spread by the Aedes albopictus species of mosquitoes, can lead to flu-like illness such as severe muscle pain and nausea and can lead to death if not cured properly. Therefore, to spread awareness, to intensify preventive measures and preparedness for the control of this disease in the country, National Dengue Day is observed in India, on May 16, every year, with the recommendation made by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Symptoms of Dengue:
Symptoms of dengue, which usually begin 4 to 6 days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include the following:
Sudden, high fever
Pain behind the eyes
Severe bone, 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)
Sometimes, symptoms of dengue are mild and it can be mistaken for those of flu or any other viral infection. However, if not treated on time serious problems can develop which can be life threatening. People with weak immune systems as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever (illness caused by the group of viruses).
Efficient and accurate diagnosis of dengue is very much important. Diagnosis can improve the effectiveness of treatments and avoid long-term complications for the patient infected with dengue.
Doctors use blood tests to detect for viral antibodies or the presence of infection.
If a person experiences dengue symptoms after traveling outside the country, the person must see a healthcare provider to check if they are infected.
Since dengue is a virus, there is no specific treatment or cure. However, intervention can help, depending on how severe the disease is.
However, treatment for milder form of dengue includes:
Dehydration can occur when a patient suffers from high fever and vomiting. The patients are advised to drink clean water, ideally bottled rather than tap water and rehydration salts can also help replace fluids and minerals.
Taking painkillers such as Tylenol or paracetamol can help lower fever and ease pain.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) :
Taking NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are not advised, as they can increase the risk of internal bleeding in the patients.
Treatment for more severe forms of dengue fever includes:
Intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation, or drip :
The intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation, or drip should be given if the person diagnosed with dengue, cannot ingest fluids by mouth.
Blood transfusion :
If the patients are facing severe dehydration, blood transfusion should be provided to them.
However, if the symptoms get worse, hospitalization will allow the individual to be properly monitored.
No vaccine can protect against dengue fever. However, the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid the infected mosquitoes bites. There are many ways to prevent oneself from getting infected from dengue. These includes:
In order to avoid dengue, stay away from heavily populated residential areas, if possible.
Using mosquito repellents, mosquito repellents cream, while going out and even indoors are essential to prevent dengue.
When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks to avoid getting bitten by the infected mosquitoes.
Use mosquito nets.
Structural barriers, such as doors and windows screens or netting, can keep mosquitos out.
Heavily scented soaps and perfumes should be avoided as it may attract mosquitos.
If a person starts having symptoms of dengue, speaking to your doctor is very much important.
Avoid collection of water in places where mosquitoes can breed. These include old tires, cans, or flower pots that collect rain. Regularly changing the water in coolers, outdoor bird baths and pets’ water dishes are highly recommended.
If someone in your home gets dengue fever, be especially vigilant about protecting yourself and other family members from mosquitoes.
Hence, mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the infection to others in your home.
Amid surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, people should also avoid other deadly diseases like dengue. Just one mosquito species, Aedes aegypti, is responsible for the spread of dengue to human beings. We will have to pay the price if we do not keep our environment clean. And one should not forget that awareness is the only key to prevent Dengue epidemic during the Covid -19 pandemic, especially when our medical infrastructure is under tremendous stress.