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Dengue - An Overview

Dengue fever is a disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The disease does not spread directly from one person to another, but only through a dengue infected mosquito. It is most commonly seen in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands, but the disease has been increasing rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Symptoms of Dengue

Symptoms usually begin about four to seven days after the initial infection and last up to 10 days.

These may include:

  • Sudden, high fever
  • Severe headache
  • Severe joint and muscle pains
  • Skin rash (appearing within2-5 days after the initial fever)
  • Mild to severe nausea
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Mild to severe vomiting
  • Mild bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Mild bruising on the skin
  • Febrile convulsions

In many cases, symptoms will be mild, which may be mistaken for symptoms of the flu or another infection.

Younger children and people who have never had the infection before, may tend to have milder symptoms than older children and adults. However, serious problems can develop, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever.

Risk factors of Dengue

The following factors can put you more at risk of dengue fever:

  • Living in or travelling to tropical areas where dengue is endemic, which increases your exposure to the virus that causes the fever.
  • If you have previously been exposed to the dengue virus, chances are you are more prone to the virus and vulnerable to its effects.

Diagnosis of Dengue

The doctor may ask the patient about his medical and travel history. Based on this he might suggest a blood test to examine the presence of virus or antibodies in the bloodstream.

Treatment of Dengue

There is no known cure for dengue. However, your doctor may prescribe medication such as Acetaminophen that can help relieve pain and reduce fever. If you are suffering from dengue haemorrhagic fever, the doctor may recommend:

  • Blood pressure monitoring
  • Supportive care in a hospital
  • IV fluid and electrolyte replacement
  • Transfusion to replace blood loss
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