The Mosquito Menace: Protect Yourself From Dengue Fever
Against the backdrop of the Covid19 pandemic coming in waves, there is another silent but steadily rising health threat. In recent weeks, Dengue fever has taken centre stage. This mosquito-borne vector disease is a common occurrence in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
Dengue (pronounced DENG-GEY) is dangerous. If not treated on time, the result can be fatal.
Dengue: The Ominous Monsoon Threat
The culprit behind Dengue fever is the female Aedes Aegypti mosquito that carries the deadly Dengue virus. The Aedes mosquito is more active in the day, unlike other nocturnal mosquito species.
When the Dengue virus infects a person, the fever can manifest itself in two forms:
- Classical dengue fever or break-bone fever
- Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF). This can be life-threatening.
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is a formidable villain. This tiny insect is also the reason behind other illnesses like West Nile infection, the infamous Yellow fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya.
Dengue is known to spread rapidly in thickly-populated areas. This vector-carrying mosquito breeds in freshwater. Water-filled old tyres, coconut shells, open tanks, and just about any place where there’s fresh, stagnant water is their ideal breeding ground.
How serious is the Dengue threat?
Generally, Dengue is a global disease. Its occurrence is greatly influenced by rainfall, humidity, temperature, and, more recently, urbanization. Every year, the virus infects an estimated 400 million people worldwide. About 100 million of them fall sick and require hospitalization.
In India, Dengue is synonymous with the monsoon. In a country where rainfall is seasonal, Dengue reigns as the most common and severe monsoon fevers. India has reported 6,387 dengue cases until May 31st, 2021. Tamil Nadu alone accounts for more than 2000 cases, followed by Kerala and Karnataka with more than 900 cases each.
Unfortunately, the global incidence of Dengue has skyrocketed in the last few years, which is a major cause for concern. As for India, Global data epidemiologists have issued a grave warning. Their prediction, based on research, says that by the end of this year, the number of Dengue cases is expected to narrowly exceed 41,000.
And as if their predictions are true, some Indian states are reporting a rapid rise in Dengue cases. Hospitals taking a much-needed break from the pandemic’s brutal second wave find themselves once again swamped with Dengue patients.
Therefore, it is time to step up your vigilance about Dengue and adopt preventive measures to combat this viral disease. Let’s get to know this disease better.
Also Read: Love Your Bones To Protect Your Future
Dengue: Understanding The Causes & Symptoms
Dengue Viruses (DV) belong to the Flaviviridae family and comprise four serotypes:
Of these four types, DV-4 is a positive-stranded encapsulated RNS virus, composed of three structural protein genes:
- Nucleocapsid or Core (C) protein
- Membrane-associated protein (M)
- Enveloped glycoprotein (E)
- Seven Non-Structural Proteins (NS)
When the Aedes mosquito bites a person infected with the Dengue virus, it becomes a carrier. Is Dengue contagious? It is. When this mosquito bites another person, it transmits the virus and infects the person. The person will usually develop symptoms within a few days. This is how the Dengue virus spreads from one person to another. It CANNOT spread directly from person to person.
An infected person will start showing symptoms after 4 or 14 days, starting with spikes in body temperature. It is also important to note that some people may not have any symptoms at all. Others will have symptoms 2 to 7 days before showing signs of recovery.
For Dengue, it is crucial to identify the symptoms so that treatment can be commenced as early as possible.
Signs & Symptoms of Classic Dengue
- High body temperature
Like all fevers, Dengue commonly manifests itself with a sudden spike in body temperature, which can go beyond 102-degree Fahrenheit. Sometimes, the fever can spiral out of control, which is why you should consult a medical expert to prevent it.
- Severe headache
The headache that accompanies Dengue fever is often unbearable. Some people experience these severe headaches before the spike in body temperature.
- Body pain
Severe muscle and joint pain is a symptom that gives it the moniker “break-bone fever”. The fever isn’t breaking any bones, but that is how severe the pain is.
Some Dengue patients exhibit a mild level of bleeding from their noses or gums. The body also becomes very sensitive and prone to bruising.
- Body rashes
Skin rashes may appear 2 or 5 days after the onset of fever. There is no special treatment for Dengue-induced rashes. They will only heal when the body is relieved of the virus.
The above-mentioned symptoms last for two days to a week. With timely treatment, you should make a good recovery in a week. However, a word of caution: these symptoms can deteriorate rapidly and worsen as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF).
The warning signs for DHF include:
- Discomfort and pain in the lower abdomen
- Bleeding from the nose and gums
- Severe vomiting (more than three times a day)
- Extreme fatigue, restlessness, and irritability
- Bloody stools and traces of blood in the vomit
Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) is when the disease becomes life-threatening. The symptoms worsen, and the person’s condition becomes critical when the blood vessels become damaged and bleeding. The platelet count drops drastically, leading to organ failure, shock, and death.
Before Dengue takes a turn for the worse, the person should be administered platelet and blood transfusion. They should be monitored for the next 24-48 hours, the critical period where anything can go wrong.
Timely medical help is the only life-saving solution for a disease like Dengue. There are no specific medications, and only symptomatic treatment can cure Dengue.
Treatment methods for Dengue fever
Dengue fever is rarely fatal, and the disease can be cured with timely medical treatment. Since Dengue is a viral infection, the most effective treatment method is eradicating the virus and preventing further complications. There are two solutions to treat mild symptoms:
- Adequate hydration
All doctors advise Dengue patients to increase their fluid intake to keep the body well-hydrated if they have diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Pain medication
You can take a pain killer to relieve you from severe body pain, but only after consulting your doctor. It is dangerous to take over-the-counter pain medication because some may increase the risk of internal bleeding.
When the symptoms spiral out of control, the situation calls for medical intervention and treatment that includes:
Intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation
An IV drip will keep the patient sufficiently hydrated whether or not they can take fluids orally.
- Blood transfusion
Patients who have severe bleeding and extreme dehydration may require an immediate blood transfusion.
Hospitalization is a must for people exhibiting severe Dengue symptoms. They require round-the-clock monitoring until they are out of the danger zone.
How Can Your Prevent Dengue Fever?
The only good thing about Dengue is that it is easily preventable. The best and probably the only way to avoid Dengue is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
To ensure that these pesky and dangerous insects can’t bite you, you can:
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt, full pants and socks to cover your limbs
- Install mesh and screens on your windows
- Use mosquito repellents if you are outdoors
You also need to be aware of your surroundings and home environment. It takes our collective effort to keep our surroundings clean and eliminate any potential breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito. Here’s what you can do:
- Dispose of unused water cans, buckets, broken mugs, etc
- Prevent the clogging of drains and roof gutters
- Dispose of unused tires and coconut shells
- Change water in vases every day
- Break up hardened soil to allow water seepage
- Place BTI insecticide inside roof drains and gutters
Beat The Mosquito Menace & Steer Clear of Dengue
Illness is never a good experience, and falling ill with Dengue can be quite unpleasant. Always be vigilant and minimize your chances of becoming infected.
Do not take Dengue lightly. Like every other ailment, it can be easily treated if you seek medical help on time. Therefore, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned in our article, consult your doctor ASAP.
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