UPDATED ON: 31 Aug 2023, 22:42 PM
Medically Reviewed by

What is Dengue?

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease. It can lead to severe fever and many more symptoms that need immediate attention. If left untreated, it can lead to severe consequences too.

Dengue is a common mosquito-borne disease.

Dengue is a viral disease that spreads through the bite of a mosquito, primarily the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It is a widespread and significant public health concern in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world. As per the World Health Organization, over 100,000 cases were documented in India in the year 2002, which has been the pattern in the country for a few years.

The dengue virus enters the bloodstream through a mosquito bite, causing an infection. The virus then multiplies in the body and causes a range of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of dengue include sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, fatigue and rash. Most people with moderate dengue get better in 1-2 weeks. Those with severe dengue may take more time to recover from the disease.

Dengue can manifest in different forms, ranging from mild dengue fever to more severe forms like dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Severe dengue can lead to serious symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding from the nose or gums, difficulty breathing, and organ impairment.

There is no specific treatment for dengue. Managing the disease mainly focuses on relieving symptoms. Severe cases of dengue may require hospitalization for close monitoring, intravenous fluid replacement and other supportive care. Early diagnosis, proper management and mosquito control are crucial in reducing the impact of dengue and preventing its spread. It is advisable to seek medical attention if you have dengue or you live in an area where dengue is prevalent.

Causes of Dengue

Dengue is a viral infection caused by the dengue virus, which is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. There are four distinct strains of dengue virus (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4). Other causes of dengue include:

  • Stagnant water, which is a breeding ground for these mosquitoes.
  • Climate conditions and environmental factor such as high temperatures and humidity
  • Inadequate mosquito control measures or the absence of effective public health programs
  • Lack of immunity, making them more susceptible to infection during outbreaks.

It’s important to note that dengue is not directly transmitted from person to person. The virus needs the mosquito vector to spread from one individual to another.

Key Facts About Dengue

Major Symptoms

Dengue fever

  • Pain behind eyes
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Pain in joints and muscles
  • Rashes on the skin

Severe dengue

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding gums
  • Severe stomach pain
Necessary Health Tests
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Antigen test
  • Antibodies test

There is no specific treatment for dengue. You should see a doctor if you notice any symptoms.

Symptoms of Dengue

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. Symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Here are some of the common symptoms of dengue according to several medical authorities:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Pain in the joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Red spots or bumps on the body
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting

Dengue can progress to a more severe form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Severe forms of dengue may lead to symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Significant decrease in blood pressure
  • Very thirsty
  • Feeling weak
  • Pale and cold skin
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Lethargy

If you or anyone around you experiences these symptoms, immediate medical attention is required.

Diagnosis of Dengue

Dengue can be difficult to diagnose as the signs and symptoms of the disease can easily be confused with other mosquito-borne diseases and even typhoid fever. Apart from asking about your medical and travel history, your healthcare provider may draw a sample of blood from you and send it for analysis. A blood test allows a doctor to analyze and detect if you have moderate dengue or severe dengue. Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor recommends the treatment.

Treatment of Dengue

The focus of dengue treatment is relieving symptoms, managing complications and providing supportive care. There is no specific antiviral medication used to treat dengue, so the primary focus remains on general measures such as:

  • Adequate rest
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Over-the-counter medicines for fever management
  • Medication to provide relief from headaches, joint, and muscle pain

In severe cases, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS), additional medical interventions may be necessary, including intravenous fluid replacement, blood transfusions, and intensive care monitoring. The patient may also need supportive care in the hospital, regular monitoring of vital signs such as temperature, blood pressure, and platelet count, intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement, or transfusion to replace blood loss.

Remember, there can be long-term side effects of dengue. So, it is advisable to seek medical attention if you suspect you have dengue or if you live in an area where dengue is prevalent.

Dengue Related FAQs

Can dengue be treated?

There is no specific anti-viral treatment available for dengue. The disease is mostly managed through supportive care, such as rest, hydration, and pain relief. It is recommended that patients who are infected should practice proper precautions to reduce transmission.

How can dengue be prevented?

Preventing mosquito bites is crucial in reducing the risk of dengue. This can be done by using mosquito repellents, wearing protective clothing, and using bed nets. Additionally, eliminating mosquito breeding sites, such as stagnant water containers, can help control mosquito populations.

Can dengue be transmitted from person to person?

No, dengue cannot be transmitted directly from person to person. It requires the bite of an infected mosquito to spread the virus. However, in rare cases, dengue transmission through blood transfusion or from an infected pregnant mother to her baby can occur.

How to reduce the risk of dengue?

Here are some of the best ways to reduce the risk of getting infected by dengue virus:1. Get rid of any standing water around your house, where mosquitoes may breed. 2. Use mosquito repellents, especially when you step outside or in areas where mosquitoes are most active. 3. Wear proper clothing to minimise exposure to mosquito bites. 4. Install window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your house. 5. Use bed nets, especially if you live in an area with a high prevalence of dengue. 6. Keep your surroundings clean to avoid mosquitoes from breeding around your place.

Can dengue be managed at home?

Most patients don't require hospitalization, but that doesn't mean that they should not seek medical attention. It is a serious disease that can aggravate if left untreated. However, people with dengue can get better by taking adequate rest, staying hydrated, and monitoring their platelet count.

Can you get dengue more than once?

Yes, it is possible to get dengue more than once. You can get dengue from two or more strains of dengue (there are four in total). However, you may not get dengue from the same type of strain twice. So, when dengue strikes twice, it can lead to severe consequences.

Is there a cure for dengue?

There is no specific treatment for dengue. However, your healthcare provider will treat the symptoms by suggesting the proper diet, taking precautions and medications.

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