Dengue Fever: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
April 8, 2022
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas. Mild dengue causes a high fever and flu-like symptoms. Severe dengue, also called dengue haemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure (shock) and death. Dengue is caused by one of four related viruses: Dengue viruses 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Causes of Dengue Fever
The primary cause of dengue fever is four types of dengue viruses. One can’t get dengue fever from being around an infected person. Instead, dengue fever is spread through mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites a person infected with the dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. Then, when the mosquito bites another person, the virus enters the bloodstream and causes an infection.
Symptoms of Dengue
Symptoms of dengue fever are generally mild in younger children and those who have the disease for the first time. However, older kids, adults, and those with a previous infection may have moderate to severe symptoms.
Symptoms of dengue usually develop suddenly, about 5 to 8 days after one is infected, and the common symptoms include:
- A high temperature, or feeling hot or shivery.
- A severe headache.
- Pain behind the eyes.
- Muscle and joint pain.
- Feeling or being sick.
- A widespread red rash.
- Abdomen pain.
- Loss of appetite.
A patient enters the critical phase, usually about 3-7 days after illness onset. During the 24-48 hours of the crucial stage, a small portion of patients may manifest sudden deterioration of symptoms. At this time, the fever is dropping in the patient, warning signs associated with severe dengue.
Warning signs that doctors should look for include:
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Bleeding gums or nose
- Liver enlargement
- Blood in vomit or stool.
Transmission of Dengue Fever
Mosquitoes can become infected from people who are viremic with DENV. This can be someone who has asymptomatic dengue infection, someone who is yet to have an asymptomatic infection (they are pre-symptomatic), but also people who show no signs of illness as well (they are asymptomatic)
Human-to-mosquito transmission can occur up to 2 days before someone shows symptoms of the illness up to 2 days after the fever has resolved.
The risk of mosquito infection is positively associated with high viremia and high fever in the patient; conversely, high levels of DENV-specific antibodies are associated with a decreased risk of mosquito infection. Most people are viremic for about 4-5 days, but viremia can last 12 days.
The primary mode of transmission of DENV between humans involves mosquito vectors. However, there is evidence of the possibility of maternal transmission (from a pregnant mother to her baby). While vertical transmission rates appear low, the risk of vertical transmission is seemingly linked to the timing of the dengue infection during the pregnancy. When a mother does have a DENV infection when she is pregnant, babies may suffer from pre-term birth, low birth weight, and fetal distress.
Also Read: Importance of a Balanced Diet
Other transmission modes
Rare transmission cases via blood products, organ donation and transfusions have been recorded. Similarly, the virus’s transovarial transmission within mosquitoes has also been recorded.
Treatment for Dengue Fever
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. But you can follow the below
- See a doctor
- Plenty of water intake
- Take rest
- Use pain relievers
Preventing Dengue Fever
The best way to prevent the disease is to prevent bites by infected mosquitoes, mainly if you are living in or travelling to a tropical area. This involves protecting yourself and making efforts to keep the mosquito population down. In 2019, the FDA approved a vaccine called Dengvaxia to help prevent the disease from occurring in adolescents aged 9 to 16 who have already been infected by dengue. But, there currently is no vaccine to prevent the general population from contracting it.
To protect yourself:
- Use mosquito repellents, even indoors.
- When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
- When indoors, use air conditioning if available.
- Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned, use mosquito nets.
- If you have symptoms of dengue, speak to your doctor.
People Also Ask
1. How do you know if you have dengue?
- Severe stomach pain.
- Persistent vomiting.
- Bleeding from your gums or nose.
- Blood in your urine, stools or vomit.
- Bleeding under the skin, which might look like bruising.
- Difficult or rapid breathing.
With the symptoms mentioned above, one can know if they have dengue or not.
2. What are the three stages of dengue fever?
The three stages of dengue flue are febrile, critical, and convalescent.
3. Can dengue cure on its own?
Most cases of dengue fever are mild and go away on their own after about a week.
4. How long does dengue fever take to start?
Dengue causes flu-like symptoms and lasts for 2-7 days. Dengue fever usually occurs after an incubation period of 4-10 days after the infected mosquito’s bite.