What is Dengue?
Dengue is one of the most common illnesses in humans. It is a flu like illness which is characterized by headache, fever, joint & muscular pain and a characteristic skin rash quite similar to measles. There are four serotypes of dengue virus, all producing a similar clinical symptom.
The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes (Aedes aegypti & Aedes albopictus) which are widely found in the tropical & subtropical areas around the world.
Features of Dengue
The incubation period of the dengue virus from an infected mosquito bite is usually 2-7 days
• Prognosis: 2 days of persistent fever and malaise
• Acute Onset: Fever, backache, arthalgias, headache, generalized body pains, pain on eye movement, lacrimation, anorexia, nausea, bradycardia, prostration, depression, lymphadenopathy, scleral injection
• Fever: Continuous or prolonged fever with back ache, usually lasting 7-8 days
• Rash: Initial flushing followed by faint muscular rash in 1st 1-2 days. Followed by spread over the rest of the body
• Complications: Minor bleeding from mucosal sites, hepatitis, cerebral hemorrhage or oedema.
Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquitoAedes aegypti , which is found in tropic and subtropic regions. This includes parts of:
• Indonesian archipelago into northeastern Australia
• South and Central America
• Southeast Asia
• Sub-Saharan Africa
• Some parts of the Caribbean
Dengue fever is being seen more often in world travelers.
Dengue fever should not be confused with Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a separate disease that is caused by the same type of virus but has much more severe symptoms.
Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 – 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection.
A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 – 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable.
Other symptoms include:
• Headache (especially behind the eyes)
• Joint aches
• Muscle aches
• Swollen lymph nodes
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. You will need fluids if there are signs of dehydration. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is used to treat a high fever. Avoid taking aspirin.
The condition generally lasts a week or more. Although uncomfortable, dengue fever is not deadly. People with the condition should fully recover.
Clothing, mosquito repellent, and netting can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes. Traveling during periods of minimal mosquito activity can also be helpful.
Mosquito abatement programs may reduce the risk of infection.