Dengue Fever

By Dr. Rajiv Dang in Internal Medicine

Sep 21 , 2015 | 4 min read


Dengue infection is caused by a virus. It occurs commonly as dengue fever. Occasionally the patient suffering from dengue may develop bleeding from nose, gums or skin. Sometimes, the patient may suffer from coffee ground vomiting or black stools. This indicates bleeding in gastro intestinal tracts and it is serious. The patient with dengue who has bleeding has Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). Sometimes, the patient suffering from dengue may develop shock, then it is called Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS).

When should one suspect Dengue?
  • Dengue should be suspected when one has sudden onset of fever. The fever is high ; 103-105 degrees F or 39-40 degrees C. It is accompanied with severe headache (mostly in the forehead), pain behind the eyes, body aches and pains, rashes on the skin and nausea or vomiting.
  • The fever lasts for 5-7 days. In some patients, fever comes down on the 3rd or 4th day but resurfaces back. It usually takes 4-6 days after the virus has entered the body for the symptoms to show up.
Can one get Dengue again, after suffering from it once?
  • It is possible to contract Dengue more than once. Dengue can occur due to any of the 4 different but related strains of dengue virus. If a person has suffered from one virus, there can be a repeat occurrence of dengue if a different strain is involved subsequently. Being affected by one strain offers no protection against the others. A person could suffer from dengue more than once in her/his lifetime.
How can someone get Dengue fever?
  • Dengue fever occurs following the bite of an infected mosquito Aedes aegypti. This type of mosquito has a peculiar white spotted body, legs and is easy to recognise. It breeds in clean water and has a flight range of only 100-200 metres. The mosquito gets the Dengue virus after biting a human being infected with Dengue virus.
Can one get Dengue fever from another person? ?
  • Dengue does not spread directly from person to person. It is only spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.
What is the treatment? ?
  • Like most viral diseases there is no specific cure for Dengue fever. Antibiotics do not help. Paracetamol is the drug of choice to bring down fever and joint pain. Other medicines such as Aspirin and Brufen should be avoided since they can increase the risk of bleeding. Any medicines that decrease platelets should be avoided.
Is Dengue fever fatal? ?
  • People who suffer from Dengue fever have no risk of death but some of them develop Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome.
  • In some of these cases death may occur. With proper treatment, the patients with Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome can recover fully. Good treatment provided in time can save most lives.
Where does the mosquito that spreads Dengue fever dwell? ?
  • The highly domestic mosquito Aedes aegypti rests indoors, in closets and other dark places. Outside it rests where it is cool and shaded. The female mosquito lays her eggs in water containers in and around the homes and other dwellings. These eggs develop, become larvae and further develop into adults in about 10 days.
How can the multiplication of mosquitoes be reduced? How to protect yourself from getting mosquito bites ?
  • To prevent the mosquitoes from multiplying, drain out the water from desert coolers/window air coolers, tanks, barrels, drums and buckets.
  • Remove all objects containing water (e.g. plant saucers etc.) from the house.
  • Collect and destroy discarded containers in which water can collect e.g. bottles, plastic bags, tins and used tyres
  • Spraying kerosene oil, etc over stagnant water in open spaces
  • Using mosquito nets, repellant creams, sprays, patches and vaporised repellers like All-Out, Good Night, etc.
  • Avoiding wearing short dresses as the Aedes mospuito flies at low heights, increasing risk of bite at the feet and legs.
  • Avoiding self-administration of anti-fever and pain killer tablets.
  • Avoiding self-administration of antibiotics, since they do not benefit in this case
How can I prevent mosquito bites and thus Dengue? ?
  • Dengue mosquitoes bite during the day time. Highest biting intensity is about 2 hours after sunrise and before sunset.
  • Wear full sleeved clothes and long dresses to cover as much of one's body as possible.
  • Use repellents - be careful in using them on young children and old people.
  • Use mosquito coils and electric vapour mats during the daytime as well as night time to prevent Dengue.
  • Use mosquito nets to protect children, old people and others who may rest during the day. The effectiveness of these nets can be improved by treating them with permethrin (pyrethroid insecticide). These bed-nets are called Insecticide Treated Nets and are widely used in the prevention of malaria.
Is there any advice for the patient with Dengue fever to prevent the spread of the disease to others? ?
  • The spread of dengue from a patient to others is possible.
The patient should be protected from contact with the mosquito. ?
  • This can be achieved by ensuring that the patient sleeps under a bed-net. Effective mosquito repellents should be used where the patient is being provided care. This will prevent the mosquito from biting the patient and from getting infected and spreading it to others.

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