Dengue Fever: Overview, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and More

Dengue fever

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (.gov) dengue fever, often simply called dengue, is a viral illness that can make people quit sick. This disease is spread by mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dengue fever symptoms are like a high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain and a skin rash. In some cases, it can become severe and even life-threatening. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine for children aged 9 to 16 years who have had dengue before and live in places where dengue is common, including some U.S. territories. For most people the best way to avoid getting dengue fever is to prevent mosquito bites. There is no cure for dengue fever. However, recognizing it early and getting treatment can help manage symptoms and prevent deaths. In 2021, there were 117 cases reported in the U.S. and 513 cases in all U.S territories. Some cases were in people who had traveled abroad, but 509 cases in Puerto Rico were not related to travel. This article discussed the symptoms and causes of dengue fever and who is at high risk.

What is Dengue Fever?

Dengue, also known as break-bone fever, is a sickness caused by a virus that mosquitoes carry and pass on to people. It’s mostly found in areas like the tropics and subtropics. Many people who get dengue won’t feel sick, but for those who do, typical signs include a high fever, headache, body pains, feeling sick to the stomach, and a rash.

What are the Symptoms of Dengue Fever?

The symptoms of dengue fever vary depending on how severe the illness is. About 75% of people with dengue fever won’t have any symptoms.

Mild Symptoms of Dengue Fever:

If symptoms appear, they may include a sudden fever of around 104 F (40 C) along with one or more of the following:

  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Rash
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Facial flushing
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Red eyes

The symptoms usually last for 2 to 7 days and most people start feeling better after a week. The fever might go up, disappear for 24 hours, then come back again.

Severe Symptoms of Dengue Fever:

Between 0.5% and 5% of cases of dengue fever become severe, which can be life-threatening. First the fever usually drops to 99.5 to 100.4 F ( 37.5 to 38 C). Severe symptoms may then show up 24 to 48 hours later, or about 3 to 7 days after the person starts feeling unwell. These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or tenderness
  • Vomiting at least three time in 24 hours
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling restless or irritable
  • Changes in temperature from very hot to very cold
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • A reduced difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressure

Anyone showing severe symptoms should seek medical help right away. Severe signs and symptoms could mean a person has either Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) or Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF), which can be deadly.

What are the Causes of Dengue Fever?

Four viruses can cause dengue fever. They are all spread by either the Aedes aegypti mosquito or, less commonly the Aedes albopictus mosquito. These types of mosquitoes are found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, including some parts of the U.S. In recent years, the number of infections has increased, especially in cities. When a mosquito carrying the virus bites a person, it can pass the virus to them. If another mosquito bites that infected person, it can pick up the virus and pass it on to the next person it bites. A person can get dengue fever more than once. They will become immune to the specific virus that caused their illness, but they won’t be immune to the other three viruses.

What are the Risk Factors and Areas of High Risk of Dengue Fever?

A person is at risk of getting dengue fever if they live or travel to an area where dengue is common and mosquitoes that carry it are present. Dengue is found in over 100 countries across:

  • North and South America
  • South East Asia
  • The pacific Islands
  • Australia
  • Africa
  • The Eastern Mediterranean

Around 70% of cases occur in Asia. Among U.S. citizens most cases occur in:

  • Puerto Rico
  • The U.S. Virgin Islands
  • American Samoa

Most Americans are at high risk of getting the infection while traveling. However, local transmission can happen in many parts of the U.S. because the mosquitoes that spread it live there.

What is the Diagnosis of Dengue Fever?

The signs and symptoms of dengue fever are similar to those of other diseases, like influenza and malaria. This similarity can make diagnosing it difficult. A doctor will most likely:

  • Assess the symptoms
  • Ask about the person’s medical and travel history
  • Order blood tests to confirm the diagnosis

What is the Treatment of Dengue Fever?

Treatment for dengue fever involves managing the symptoms. According to 2009 research treatment for milder forms includes:

  • Drinking water to help prevent dehydration
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Using pain relief, such as Tylenol or paracetamol, which can also help reduce fever

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen aren’t recommended because they can raise the risk of internal bleeding. Sometimes, a doctor may suggest hospitalization and:

  • IV fluids supplements
  • A blood transfusion
  • A platelet transfusion in some cases

Without treatment 10-20% of severe cases may be fatal. Treatment reduces this figure to 1%.

What is the Prevention of Dengue Fever?

In May 2019, the FDA approved the first dengue vaccine. It can prevent dengue caused by all four viruses. It is for people who:

  • Are ages 9 – 16 years
  • Have had dengue in the past
  • Live in areas where dengue is common including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands

People who are not eligible for the vaccine can reduce their risk by taking steps to avoid mosquito bites. These tips include:

  • wearing the clothes that covers the body
  • Using mosquito repellents on the body
  • Using mosquito nets
  • Using window and door screens
  • Treating camping gear or clothes with insect repellent before use
  • If possible, avoiding being outside at dawn, dusk, and early evening
  • Remove ant stagnant water around the home and avoid camping near still water
  • Check that drains, plant pots, and other features are not collecting water

What is the Role of the National Dengue Control Unit?

The National Dengue Control Unit (NDCU) is a crucial organization in the fight against dengue. It’s like a team of superheroes, but in real life. This unit is a part of the government and it’s responsible for making sure that dengue doesn’t spread and causes big problems. Here are some important things the (NDCU) does;

Mosquito Control:

Mosquitoes are the “ bad guys ’’ in this story because they spread dengue. The NDCU works hard to control mosquito populations by using things like insecticides and cleaning up places where mosquitoes like to breed such as stagnant water.

Raising Awareness:

The NDCU helps people understand what dengue is, how it spreads, and how to protect themselves. They do this through campaigns, educational programs, and sharing information with the public.

Early Detection:

The NDCU keeps an eye out for any signs of a dengue outbreak. If they see a rise in dengue cases in an area, they take action quickly to stop it from spreading.

Supporting Research:

The NDCU helps with research to find better ways to prevent and treat dengue. This is like finding new weapons to fight the “dengue” villains. ’’

Emergency Response:

When dengue becomes a big problem, the NDCU is ready to step in and help. They make sure people get the care they need and work to control the spread of the disease.

Eliminate Mosquito Breeding Site:

Check your surroundings for places where water collects, like old tires, flowerpots, or clogged gutters. Clear these areas to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.

Use Mosquito Repellent:

Apply mosquito repellent on your skin and clothing to keep the insects away and keep dengue fever symptoms in mind.

Wear Protective Clothes:

When possible, wear long sleeves and pants to minimize exposure to mosquito’s bites.

Stay Indoor:

Mosquitoes that spread dengue are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. If you can, stay indoors during these times.

Support Government Efforts:

Follow guidance and advice provided by the NDCU and local health authorities. In the fight against dengue the National Dengue Control Unit plays a vital role in keeping communities safe and informed. By working together and taking preventive measures, we can reduce the impact of dengue and create a healthier and safer environment for all.

What to Know About Malaria?

Malaria is a serious illness transmitted by mosquitoes that can be life threatening. Symptoms include fever, chills, and headaches. Treatment usually involves taking antimalarial medications. There are five types of Plasmodium parasites that can cause malaria in humans. When an infected Anopheles mosquito bites a person the parasites multiply in the liver before infecting red blood cells. Early symptoms include fever, and if untreated, malaria can damage internal organs and even lead to death. In some places early diagnosis can help treat and control malaria, but many countries lack the resources for effective screening. In 2020, there were approximately 241 million cases of malaria globally, resulting in around 627,000 deaths. Although malaria is rare in the United States, there are still about 2,000 cases diagnosed each year, mostly among people returning from areas where it’s common. However, experts warn that climate change could cause cases to increase in the country.

What is the first Malaria Vaccine?

In 2021, the World Health Organization approved the first malaria vaccine called RTS,S (Mosquirix), but it is only available for children living in certain parts of Africa, not for travelers. However, travelers can take preventive pills to reduce the risk of infection.

What are the Symptoms of Malaria?

Malaria is an illness characterized by symptoms such as fever, chills, and headaches. It can lead to severe or life threatening complications. The impact of malaria can vary greatly among individuals. While some may experience mild or no symptoms, others can become seriously ill. Doctors classify malaria symptoms into two categories; uncomplicated or severe malaria.

Uncomplicated Malaria:

Uncomplicated malaria occurs when a person has symptoms but shows no signs of severe infection or dysfunction of vital organs. However, without treatment or if a person has weak immunity, it can turn into severe malaria. Symptoms may be similar to those of the flu and usually last for 6 to 10 hours, recurring every second day. However, some strains of the parasites may have a longer cycle or cause mixed symptoms. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • An enlarged liver
  • Mild jaundice, which can cause the eyes to appear yellow
  • A higher breathing rate
  • A general feeling of being unwell

In places where malaria is rare, a doctor might mistake it for the flu. If someone has recently traveled to an area where malaria is common and starts experiencing these symptoms, they should talk to their doctor about their trip.

Fever Cycle:

The classic fever cycle of malaria usually lasts 6-10 hours and recurs every second day. It involves:

  • Chills and shivering
  • Fever, headaches, and vomiting possibly with seizures in young children
  • A sweating stage
  • A return to usual temperatures that accompanies fatigue

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentions that this is uncommon. With certain types of Plasmodium parasites attacks may happen every third day.

Severe Malaria:

In certain situations, malaria can advance and harm essential organs in the body. By this stage, malaria parasites have invaded more than 5% of the red blood cells. These symptoms are include:

  • Severe anemia
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in the blood clotting
  • Impaired consciousness
  • Changes in behavior
  • High acidity in the blood and body fluids
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Severe malaria is a life threatening medical emergency.

What are the Causes of Malaria?

A person can get malaria if they’re bitten by a mosquito carrying a parasite called Plasmodium. There are many types of these parasites, but only five can cause malaria in humans. And it’s only the female Anopheles mosquito that can transmit malaria to humans. When an infected mosquito bites someone, the parasites enter their bloodstream. It then moves to the liver and starts multiplying. The liver releases new malaria parasites back into the bloodstream, where they infect red blood cells and multiply more. Some parasites stay in the liver and don’t circulate until later, causing recurring episodes of malaria. As the parasites multiply, symptoms begin to show up usually 7 to 30 days after infection, depending on the type of Plasmodium. If someone has taken antimalarial drugs and then gets infected, it might take longer for symptoms to appear, sometimes weeks or months. An unaffected mosquito can also pick up parasites when it feeds on blood containing them which starts the cycle over again.

What is the Diagnosis of Malaria?

Early diagnosis is crucial for recovering from malaria. Even after taking antimalarial drugs, people can still get infected. In such cases, symptoms may appear up to a year after infection. Anyone experiencing symptoms that could suggest malaria should see a doctor right away. They should inform the healthcare provider if they’ve been in an area where malaria is present in the past 12 months. The doctor will ask about the person’s symptoms and travel history. If malaria is suspected, they’ll order some blood tests. These tests include:

  • A common blood count to test for anemia
  • Rapid diagnostic testing (RDT) for parasites which can provide results in 2-15 minutes
  • Microscopic examination of blood cells

RST tests are available as a kit but only through laboratories.

What is the Treatment of Malaria?

With early treatment, the majority of people with malaria can fully recover. Treatment for individuals with the disease typically involves:

  • Medications to get rid of the parasites from the bloodstream
  • Supportive care
  • Hospitalizations for those with severe symptoms
  • Intensive care, if necessary

The primary antimalarial drugs are:

  • Chloroquine
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Primaquine
  • Artemisinin- based therapy
  • Atovaquone proguanil

This treatment usually lasts for two days. However the specific medication and duration of treatment can vary based on:

  • The type of Plasmodium parasites that caused the malaria
  • The severity of symptoms
  • Where the person contracted malaria
  • Whether they’ve taken antimalarial drugs before
  • Pregnancy status

Additionally, people who develop complications may need a combination of medications.

What are the Complications of Malaria?

The possible complications of malaria include:

  • Liver failure which can lead to jaundice
  • Usually low blood glucose
  • Swelling and rupturing of the spleen
  • Shock, which includes a sudden fall in blood pressure
  • Pulmonary edema, where fluid builds up on the lungs
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome, which affects breathing
  • Dehydration

What is the Prevention of Malaria?

Strategies for preventing malaria include:

  • Being aware of the risk
  • Preventing mosquito bites by using insect repellent and covering exposed skin
  • Taking antimalarial tablets when traveling to malaria prone areas
  • Seeking prompt diagnosis and treatment if malaria is suspected
  • Vaccinating children living in areas where malaria is common

Antimalarial drugs are approximately 90% effective in preventing malaria. However, even when using these drugs, it’s important to still take precautions to avoid mosquito bites when in malaria affected areas. Anyone planning to travel to a malaria endemic area should inquire about antimalarial tablets well in advance. Typically, people need to start taking the medication several days before traveling. Some drugs may require tests before use, which can take time to arrange.

Vaccination:

A vaccine is now accessible for preventing malaria, but it’s not intended for travelers. It’s approved for children living in moderate to high risk areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, where Plasmodium falciparum infection is prevalent. Health experts have already given over 2.3 million doses of the vaccine, and it’s proven to be safe. Although the vaccine can save lives it’s not completely effective. Presently, in children under the age of 5 years, it:

  • Offers 30% protection from severe malaria after four doses
  • Will likely save one life among every 200 children vaccinated
  • Can reduced the risk of an episode by 40%

Where is Malaria Most Common?

Malaria isn’t native to the U.S., but it impacts people in 87 countries worldwide, especially in:

  • Sub Saharan Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • South America

In these regions, factors that increase the risk of the disease being present and easily spread include:

  • Warm climate
  • Altitude (risk may be lower at higher altitudes)
  • Urbanization and high population density
  • Travel between countries or between urban and rural areas
  • Urban agricultures
  • Open water sources like swamps, ditches, unused swimming pools, and leaky pipes
  • The type of Plasmodium parasites present in local mosquitos
  • Access the health education and prevention methods

The CDC offers a list of countries and their malaria risk levels, along with advice on which antimalarial tablets to take when traveling. Certain individuals may have a higher risk of malaria due to lower immunity, including:

  • Young children
  • Pregnant women, especially during their first or second pregnancies
  • People from regions where malaria is rare

The CDC advises travelers to:

  • Learn about the overall risk of malaria in the area they plan to visit.
  • Check the specific risk for their exact location, the season, their travel style, and their health status.
  • Seek guidance on the most suitable medication to prevent infection in that region.
  • Request antimalarial drugs ahead of time to allow for any necessary testing and pre travel doses.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of malaria.
  • Understand that blood donation may not be allowed after visiting a malaria-endemic area.

While traveling, individuals can lower the risk of mosquito bites by:

  • Choosing air conditioned accommodations.
  • Avoiding camping near stagnant water.
  • Wearing clothing that covers the body when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Using insect repellent, treated bed nets, and other protective products.

Symptoms of malaria may appear up to a year after leaving an area where malaria is common. Anyone experiencing fever, chills, or other symptoms after traveling should seek medical attention.

FAQs:

What sprays kill the dengue?

Baygon Anti-Dengue Mosquito Killer.

Which fruits are good for dengue?

fruits and vegetables that can help in quick recovery. Such as:

  • Kiwi
  • Papaya
  • Pomegranate
  • Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Citrus fruits
  • Pumpkin

Are eggs good for dengue?

Food to avoid for dengue patients includes spicy, salty foods, alcohol, caffeine, fried and fatty foods. Protein sources include lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, tofu, and eggs to avoid tissue repair. Rest is crucial for recovery.

What are the 4 types of dengue fever?

There are four different types of the dengue virus, known as dengue-1, dengue-2, dengue-3, and dengue-4. These virus strains are widespread and found in various parts of the world.

What are the 3 stages of dengue fever?

Dengue typically starts suddenly after an average incubation period of 5-7 days. The illness progresses through three phases: febrile, critical, and convalescent.

What are the 4 grades of dengue fever?

Dengue severity is classified into four grades based on bleeding episodes and shock:

  • Grade 1: No evidence of bleeding, positive Tourniquet test
  • Grade 2: Evidence of bleeding episodes
  • Grade 3: Presence of a weak and rapid pulse rate, low blood pressure, or narrow pulse pressure
  • Grade 4: Non-measurable blood

Can we drink milk in dengue?

Yes, you can consume dairy products like milk during dengue fever because it helps the immune system to regain strength.

Is banana OK for dengue?

In addition to being one of the best foods that help with digestion, they are rich in Potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamins C which acts as a booster in recovering from dengue.

Which juice is the best for dengue?

You can rehydrate by drinking electrolyte water or fruit juice (coconut water, orange juice, grapefruit juice). These fruit juices contain many minerals and vitamin C, which help increase the strength of the vessel walls, helping the disease heal faster.

Can we drink Coke in dengue?

There are some foods that are the worst for dengue fever and thus should not be consumed. The list includes oily and fried foods, caffeine, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, and high-fat foods.

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