Dengue fever, symptoms, causes and treatment

Dengue fever is a big life-threatening disease in tropical and subtropical areas of the earth. It has become a major public health issue in developing and less developed countries. It is mosquito-borne viral fever and is one of the lethal vector-borne diseases. The virus causes flu-like illness and some time can develop DHF which can be life-threatening. It has become a concern for the whole world with almost 50% population is now at risk.

It has become the leading cause of death in children in the countries of Asia and Latin America. The majorly affected areas are urban, semi-urban and slums with a lack of proper sanitation and drainage system. Here we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this deadly disease.

What is Dengue fever?

It is a viral disease caused by the virus. The virus is transmitted in humans by a female mosquito (Aedes Aegypti ). If proper treatment is not taken the dengue can turn into dengue hemorrhagic fever. It is also known as break-bone fever. The DHF can cause excessive bleeding and death due to shock. There are four closely related but different serotypes viruses (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4). The recovery from one type of virus does not guarantee immunity against other types, therefore, infection from different viruses can result in severe dengue.

According to a report, 390 million infections per year are caused by it across the world. Almost 3.9 billion populations are at risk due to this disease. This disease has become endemic in the regions of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Americas, South-East Asia, and Western Pacific. The cases of it were also reported in Europe when travelers return from affected countries.


How dangerous is Dengue fever?

DHF can cause low blood pressure and dengue shock syndrome. It can affect the lungs, liver, bone marrow, brain, and heart. A pregnant woman having it may be at high risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, and premature death. 25000 people are died yearly worldwide due to this disease.

How long does it take for dengue symptoms to show?

When a mosquito bites the person who has the virus in his blood the mosquito becomes infected. It can spread the virus to healthy persons by biting them. It is not contagious so it can’t be spread from person to person. Sometimes the symptoms are not visible in a mild case. The first symptom of it occurs in 5-7 days after a healthy person is bitten by a mosquito.

What are the symptoms of dengue fever?  

It is a flu-like illness with a very high temperature 40°c/104°F and associated with at-least of two following symptoms: a severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.

If a condition of the patient worsens the DHF can develop. The severe dengue fever causes loss of plasma, very low platelet count, fluid accumulation and bleeding. The symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are followings:-severe abdominal pain, continuous vomiting, and rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue and blood in vomit. The next 24-48 hours are very critical for the patient and need intensive care unit treatment to avoid the risk of death.

Can it be sexually transmitted?

A study has found that the virus can transmit through sex. It is not transmitted through kissing. It can also be transmitted via infected blood or organ transplant. It can be transmitted to a child from an infected mother.

What should we do after a mosquito bite?

If you feel sick and think that you may have dengue then use acetaminophen, get a lot of water and bed rest and avoid spreading disease by preventing more mosquito bites.

How do you confirm dengue fever?

A blood test is done to check for virus or antibodies to it.

How is dengue fever treated?

If it is not severe then in case of mild fever then patients are advised to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. The patient needs to take a lot of bed rest. Medicine like acetaminophen is used to treat pain and fever. The medicines which can cause more bleeding should be avoided like ibuprofen and aspirin.

If a patient develops DHF symptoms like severe abdominal pain or vomiting in the first 24 hours after fever declines they should immediately go for the diagnosis and proper treatment. The DHF treatment may include platelet transfusion and intravenous fluid.

Who is most at risk for dengue fever?

Children older than 6 years are more prone to this disease because they spend more time in school, crowded places, parks, etc. Children are more likely to develop DHF than adult people. People who earlier infected by dengue. People traveling to tropical areas for trade and tourism are also prone to dengue virus.

 

How much platelet count is normal in dengue?

The normal platelet count is between 1.5 lakh and 4.5 lakh per microliter of blood. The platelets in the blood are also dropped down in viral fever there in case of viral fever it decreases up to 90,000. In the case of dengue fever, it can low as 20,000 even lower. The platelets reach the normal range once dengue is cured. Dangerous internal bleeding can occur when platelet count goes below 10,000 per microliter.

 

Can papaya fruit or leaves cure dengue?

There are many natural remedies for treating dengue fever-like eating fruits which can increase the platelet production in the blood. The Papaya juice can be an effective way to recover fast from the dengue. Although there is no scientific evidence, various studies show the effectiveness of the home remedies. You can make juice or pulp of Papaya’ leaves by crushing them. Papaya is rich in papain and chymopapain enzymes which prevents the bloating. The Papaya juice is widely used in India to increase the platelet count. It just not increase platelets but also well for digestion and removing toxic elements from the body. The broccoli and beans are a good source of increasing blood platelets. They contain vitamin K which helps in enhancing the platelet count.

 

Pomegranate is rich in iron and essential minerals help in maintaining the blood platelet. This provides the energy to the patient and reduces the feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. Spinach is rich in omega 3 fatty acid and iron and effective for the immune system.

 

It is well known that Neem (Azadirachta Indica) is being used for treating various diseases since ancient times in India. It has great medicinal value like boosting the immune system and increasing platelet count in the blood. Chewing Neem leaves or drinking its water can enhance the number of platelets.

 

Tulsi(Holi Basil)can help in case of weakness and fighting bacterium. Turmeric can also increase platelets. Curcumin present in Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

 

The dengue outbreak in recent years has become a major public health issue across the world. Although the vaccine named Dengvaxia has been developed, the efficacy of this has to be established. The prevention is a better cure and therefore people, communities, NGOs and local governments need to take preventive steps of stopping the spread of the dengue virus by controlling the mosquito population. People need to make aware of this disease and preventive steps to avoid any causality.

 

India is prone to many vector-borne diseases and their outbreaks, to control these epidemics. Government of India has developed a long term action plan. National guidelines for clinical management of dengue have been prepared. The periodic review is conducted from time to time and advisories are issued.

 

The planned development of urban areas needs to be taken so that unnecessary waterlogging can be avoided. It is reported that mosquitoes are generated in freshwater so people should not store water in pots, utensils, open and unused land, parks for a long time. People need to adopt a healthy diet to fight this infectious disease by boosting the immune system. Since children are more prone to mosquito bites, parents and teachers need to put efforts to make children aware of preventive steps to save the children. Once symptoms are visible medical treatment should be started as soon as possible. The areas where an outbreak of dengue has taken the medical administration should work promptly to stop the further spread of the virus.