Dengue Fever: What You Need to Know.

Dengue fever is a disease that is caused by a virus and spread by mosquitoes. It is common in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, such as Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific islands. Dengue fever can cause mild to severe symptoms, and sometimes it can be life-threatening.

How Do You Get Dengue Fever?

You can get dengue fever if you are bitten by a mosquito that is infected with one of the four types of dengue virus. These mosquitoes usually bite during the day, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. They breed in stagnant water, such as in containers, tires, buckets, and flower pots.

Types of Dengue Virus.

  • DENV-1: It is the most common type in Africa and the second most common type in Asia. It can cause mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever, headache, rash, and joint pain. It can also cause severe dengue in some cases, especially if you have been infected with another type of dengue virus before. 
  • DENV-2: It is the most common type in Asia and the second most common type in Latin America. It can cause more severe symptoms than DENV-1, such as bleeding, shock, and organ failure. It is also more likely to cause severe dengue if you have been infected with DENV-1 or DENV-3 before. 
  • DENV-3: This is the most common type in Latin America and the Pacific islands. It can cause similar symptoms as DENV-1 and DENV-2, but it can also cause more neurological complications, such as encephalitis, meningitis, and seizures. It can also cause severe dengue if you have been infected with DENV-2 or DENV-4 before. 
  • DENV-4: This is the least common type in the world, but it is more prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. It can cause mild to moderate symptoms, similar to DENV-1, but it can also cause severe dengue if you have been infected with DENV-3 before. 

Can Dengue Fever Be Transmitted By Human? 

You cannot get dengue fever from another person, unless you share blood or body fluids with someone who has the disease. You also cannot get dengue fever from animals or food.

What Are the Symptoms of Dengue Fever?

  • High fever (104°F or 40°C).
  • Headache.
  • Pain behind the eyes.
  • Muscle, bone, or joint pain.
  • Rash.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Swollen glands.

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Dengue Fever?

Most people recover from dengue fever within a week or so. But some people may develop a more severe form of the disease, called severe dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome. This can happen if you get infected with a different type of dengue virus after you have already had dengue fever before. 

What Are the Things That Severe Dengue Can Cause?

  • Bleeding from the nose, gums, or skin.
  • Low blood platelets, which help your blood clot.
  • Leakage of blood plasma, which is the liquid part of your blood.
  • Low blood pressure, which can lead to shock.
  • Organ failure, such as of the liver, kidneys, or heart.
  • Death.

How is Dengue Fever Diagnosed?

To diagnose dengue fever, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, travel history, and exposure to mosquitoes. Your doctor may also do some blood tests to check for the presence of the dengue virus or its antibodies.

How is Dengue Fever Treated?

There is no specific medicine to cure dengue fever. The treatment mainly aims to relieve your symptoms and prevent complications. The treatment may include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) to reduce fever and pain.
  • Avoiding aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Getting rest and staying in a cool place.
  • Going to the hospital if you have signs of severe dengue, such as bleeding, low blood pressure, or difficulty breathing.

How Can You Prevent Dengue Fever?

The best way to prevent dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus. You can do this by:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes when you go outside.
  • Applying insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus on your exposed skin.
  • Using mosquito nets, screens, or air conditioning to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Emptying or covering any containers that can hold water, such as buckets, tires, flower pots, and vases, where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Seeking medical attention if you have symptoms of dengue fever, especially if you have traveled to an area where the disease is common.

Is There A Vaccine To Protect You From Dengue Fever?

Yes. There are two types of vaccines that can protect against dengue fever, but they are not widely available or recommended for everyone. So, you should talk to your doctor before getting any of these vaccines.

One vaccine, Dengvaxia, is only approved for people who have had dengue fever before, or who live in areas where the disease is very common. The other vaccine, Qdenga, is approved for people who are 4 years or older and who live or travel to areas where the disease is common. 

The Key Takeaway.

Dengue fever is a serious disease that can lead to death. You can prevent it and get vaccinated if you are eligible. If you suspect symptoms of dengue fever, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

FAQs On Dengue Virus.

Can dengue fever cause neurological problems?

Yes, it can cause neurological problems like:

  • Encephalitis, inflammation of the brain.
  • Meningitis, inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that affects the nerves.
  • Transverse myelitis, inflammation of the spinal cord.

Can dengue fever affect pregnant women and their babies?

Yes, dengue fever can affect pregnant women and their babies. Pregnant women are more likely to develop severe dengue, which can cause complications such as preterm labor, miscarriage, or stillbirth. It can also be transmitted from the mother to the baby during pregnancy or delivery. This can cause the baby to have low birth weight, congenital defects, or neonatal dengue. 

Can dengue fever cause skin problems?

Yes, it can cause skin problems like:

  • Rash, a red or pink patchy or spotty skin eruption.
  • Petechiae, small red or purple spots on the skin caused by bleeding under the skin.
  • Ecchymoses, which are large purple or black bruises on the skin caused by bleeding under the skin. These usually appear on the arms, legs, or trunk.

Can dengue fever cause eye problems?

Yes, it can cause eye problems like:

  • Conjunctivitis, inflammation of the membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner eyelid.
  • Uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye that contains the iris and the blood vessels.
  • Retinal hemorrhage, bleeding in the back of the eye that affects the retina.
  • Optic neuritis, inflammation of the nerve that connects the eye to the brain.

Can dengue fever cause liver problems?

It can cause liver problems like:

  • Hepatitis, inflammation of the liver.
  • Liver failure, when the liver stops working properly.

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