Dengue Fever is also known as Break Bone Fever. It is caused by a virus which spreads between people through the bites of mosquitoes Aedes egypti and Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes mostly bite during the daytime. Four different viruses can cause dengue. The symptoms of infection begin 3- 7 days after the mosquito bite and last for 3- 10 days. Patients suffer from high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into life-threatening Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) or Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS).
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever:
In DHF patients develop symptoms of dengue fever and any of these following symptoms:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and skin bruising
- Frequent vomiting with or without blood (Haematemesis)
- Blood in the stools
- Excessive thirst
- Pale and cold skin and hands and feet
- Restlessness and sleepiness
In Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) patients become even sicker and develop dangerously low blood pressure. In DHF and DSS patients can become very sick and so they should be urgently hospitalized and managed by the specialist team.
How to manage patients with Dengue:
- Patients with symptoms of only dengue fever can be managed at home. They should be encouraged to drink lot of water, oral rehydration solution, fruit juices and other fluids with electrolytes.
- They should take regular paracetamol for fever and body ache. They should avoid medications such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen as these can precipitate bleeding in a patient with dengue.
- The patient should be brought to the hospital immediately if there is no clinical improvement, severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, cold hands and feet, lethargy or irritability, restlessness, bleeding (e.g. black stools or coffee-ground vomiting), not passing urine for more than 4–6 hours.
How can Dengue be prevented?
- Dengue can be prevented by controlling mosquitoes and by preventing mosquito bites. The best way to reduce mosquitoes is to eliminate the places where they lay eggs such as artificial containers that hold water and stagnant ponds and ditches.
- Fogging with insecticides to reduce adult mosquito load is also helpful. To protect from mosquito bites always use of mosquito repellants and nets. Wearing full sleeve clothes and full trousers during outdoor visits is also protective.