Dengue Fever: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Most people are aware of the most common diseases carried by mosquitos such as Yellow Fever and Malaria. However, many are less familiar with another mosquito born virus, Dengue Fever. It can be found in 128 countries of the world and is most prevalent in tropical and sub-tropical countries and makes an appearance in many more temperate climate countries as well. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that there could be up to 400 million cases of Dengue fever each year and the World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that worldwide, there are 22 000 deaths from Dengue Fever, mostly among children. The numbers have increased in recent years due to a better reporting and diagnosis and with the movement of urban populations into rural areas.

How is dengue fever contracted?

The disease itself can only be passed to humans from an infected mosquito. The offending breed of mosquitos are identified by their stripes that are light grey to white. It cannot be passed from human to human but first has to be carried by a mosquito host.

What are dengue fever’s symptoms?

The onset of the disease can be very similar to a case of the flu. Symptoms, which usually develop in three to eight days after exposure, are chills, fever up to 104° F, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, loss of appetite, lower backache and pain in the legs and joints. These will subside after a few days and a couple of days later the fever will return and a red, itchy rash can break out all over the body, except the face. Also, the palms of the hand and soles of the feet may turn red and become swollen.

What to do?

If you think you may have been exposed to Dengue Fever and develop these symptoms, you must see a physician immediately. Testing has been perfected and can identify the antibodies in the blood that will occur if the fever is present and a diagnosis can be quickly given.

dengue-fever-2How to treat dengue fever?

Since the dengue fever is a virus, no specific medications or antibiotics have been developed to treat it. With rest and good hydration most people will make a full recovery. However, a severe form of the disease known as Dengue Hemorrhage Fever (DHF) can develop and the infected person can begin bleeding from the gums and in the digestive system along with vomiting and stomach pain. DHF can also get more serious involving the heart and lungs and needing hospitalization. Self-use of no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and aspirin is not recommended as they can promote bleeding and should be administered only under the supervision of a doctor. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or codeine are usually given to relieve pain. Dengue is fatal in less than 1% of the cases. The acute portion of the disease with fever and body pain will usually last about one to two weeks. The period of convalescence and the feeling of weakness may take several weeks to pass.

So how can i avoid dengue in the first place?

Good mosquito hygiene and common sense are your best weapons. When appropriate, wear long sleeves and clothes that will cover the legs. Sleep in mosquito-free spaces, keep windows and doors without screens closed to keep mosquitos out. Use insect repellents that contain DEET, they are effective in repelling mosquitos. Almost all “natural” repellents and vitamin patches will do absolutely nothing to keep mosquitos away.

Mosquitos can detect the carbon dioxide exhaled in human breath, they will follow the trail back to you if you stay in one place too long. Also, mosquitos are poor fliers and have difficulty moving where there is wind. You can get some real relief from them on windy days and even sitting in front of the breeze stirred up by a fan can help keep them away.