What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a tropical disease caused by a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus can cause fever, headaches, rashes, and pain throughout the body. Most cases of dengue fever are mild and disappear on their own in about a week.
Symptoms of Dengue
Many people, especially children, and adolescents may have signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue. When symptoms occur, they usually begin four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
Dengue causes a high fever of 104 ° F (40 ° C), and at least two of the following symptoms:
- Pain in muscles, bones, and joints
- Pain behind the eyes
- Inflamed glands
Most people recover in about a week. In some cases, the symptoms get worse and can be life-threatening. Blood vessels are often damaged and lose blood. And it decreases the amount of clot-forming cells (platelets) in the bloodstream. This can cause a severe form of dengue called “dengue hemorrhagic fever”, “severe dengue fever” or “dengue shock syndrome”.
Signs and symptoms of severe dengue or dengue hemorrhagic fever, which represents a life-threatening emergency, include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Constant vomiting
- Bleeding gums or nose
- Blood in the urine, feces or vomit
- Bleeding under the skin, which may look like a bruise
- Trouble breathing or rapid breathing
- Cold or moist skin (shock)
- Irritability or restlessness
Dengue Symptoms in child
The healthy mosquito bites a person with dengue takes the virus from the blood and after biting a healthy person infects it with the disease.
In children, the symptoms of dengue are:
- Fever that lasts 2 to 7 days,
- Pain behind the eyes,
- Muscle aches,
- Eventual redness and itching of the skin.
- Intense and continuous abdominal pain,
- Respiratory difficulty,
- Persistent vomiting,
Temporary and complete loss of sensation and movement or lethargy.
- If these symptoms are not treated in a timely manner, they can reach the most complicated form of the disease, presenting severe or hemorrhagic dengue, which causes the drop in blood pressure to the state of shock, accumulation of fluids in the lungs, severe bleeding and damage to various organs
- The vast majority of cases of classic dengue are treated with rest, oral hydration and proper medication.
- Parents should remember that the dengue mosquito is in their homes and that it is recommended that the family take all measures that prevent its reproduction by tightly covering the tanks and containers that contain water; keeping the gutters and drains clean; changing the water of vases, fish tanks and drinking troughs of animals and cleaning them every three days.
- In addition, the surroundings of the house must be kept without weeds and self-care behaviors must be implemented at home, such as the placement of mosquito nets on doors and windows and the use of repellents.
- If you suspect that your child is suffering from dengue, do not give him medication that he believes could help him as it could complicate the evolution of the disease and aggravate it. Go immediately to a health center or hospital and keep it hydrated with fluids.
Dengue Fever Causes
Dengue fever can be caused by four similar viruses that contract through bites of Aedes mosquitoes, common in tropical and subtropical areas around the world.
When a mosquito of the genus Aedes bites a person infected with dengue virus, the mosquito becomes a carrier of that virus. If the mosquito bites another person, it can get dengue fever. The virus cannot be spread directly from one person to another.
In exceptional cases, dengue fever can be transformed into a more serious form of the disease, called dengue hemorrhagic fever. This condition can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical treatment.
Dengue Fever Prevention
A dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia, is approved for use in people 9 to 45 years of age living in areas with a high incidence of dengue. The vaccine is given in three doses over 12 months. The Dengvaxia vaccine prevents dengue infections in little more than half of the time.
The vaccine is approved only for older children because younger children who receive it seem to have a higher risk of severe dengue and require hospitalization two years after receiving the vaccine.
The World Health Organization emphasizes that the vaccine is not an effective tool, by itself, to reduce dengue in areas where the disease is common. Controlling mosquito populations and human exposure remains the most important prevention measure.
So, for now, if you live or travel to an area affected by dengue, the best way to avoid dengue is to avoid the bites of the mosquito that transmits the disease.
If you live or travel to tropical areas where dengue is frequent, the following tips will help you reduce the risk of mosquito bites:
- It remains in air-conditioned environments and well protected with mosquito nets. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus are more active at sunrise and sunset, but also bite during the night.
- Wear protective clothing. When you go to mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes.
- Use mosquito repellent. You can apply permethrin on your clothes, shoes, camping equipment, and bed nets. You can also buy clothes that already contain permethrin. For the skin, use a repellent that contains at least a 10 percent concentration of DEET (N, N-diethyl-m toluamide).
- Reduce mosquito habitat. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus normally live inside and around homes, and breed in stagnant waters that can accumulate on objects such as car tires. You can help reduce mosquito populations by eliminating the habitats where they lay eggs. At least once a week, empty and clean containers that contain standing water, such as pots, animal dishes, and vases. Keep the containers with standing water covered between one cleaning and another.
Types of Dengue
There are two types of dengue:
- The classic dengue that does not usually present many complications, since the organism tends to recover completely with the proper care.
- Hemorrhagic dengue which is caused by the serotypes Den 1, Den 2, Den 3 and Den 4, whose incubation period is between five and eight days. It is a severe manifestation and can cause the death of the patient because tachycardias, bone pain, hemorrhages, alteration of blood pressure, circulatory insufficiency or dehydration may occur.
There are several tests that can be done to diagnose this condition, such as a laboratory test to measure the level of antibodies through a blood sample, a complete blood count, or liver function tests.
Experts say there is no specific treatment for dengue. However, assistance from doctors and nurses who have experience with the effects and evolution of the disease is essential to save lives and reduce mortality rates.