Monsoon is here, mosquitoes are back and so is dengue: Here are some key things you need to know about the disease
About half the world’s population is at risk for dengue, according to data by the World Health Organization (WHO). A vector-borne disease, it spreads through the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. Rainfall, fluctuating temperatures and rapid urbanization - all contribute to the rise of dengue cases.
This year, a dengue epidemic in the Philippines has made 188,000 people sick and led to over 600 deaths. In Bangladesh, 50,000 people are reported sick with the death toll rising to 40 in mid-August. In India this year, an outbreak in Bengaluru has already affected more than 3,300 people. Cases have also been reported from Bareilly, Doon and Nagpur.
For dengue, a viral infection, prevention is certainly better than cure. Here’s a quick look at what it is and what to do if you get the infection.
What is dengue fever?
Primarily a tropical disease, dengue is endemic to 100 countries - including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. A rapid increase in the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes during monsoons means that most cases of dengue fever occur during the rainy season - though the viral infection can occur at other times of the year, too.
Dengue (also known as dengue haemorrhagic fever or DHF) is a febrile disease, marked by fever and chills along with decreased platelet and leukocyte count and increased liver function and body pain.
There are four serotypes of dengue - a patient can’t get infected with the same type twice. This is because the body produces antibodies during the first encounter which provide lifelong protection against subsequent infections - just like the chickenpox virus. One can, however, get dengue again because of infection by a different serotype - in such cases, the body induces an enhanced response.
Severe dengue infection can lead to vomiting, internal bleeding and shock - also known as Dengue Shock Syndrome.
In a research article published in the Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock in 2011, Senaka Rajapakse wrote: “The onset of shock in dengue can be dramatic, and its progression relentless. The pathogenesis of shock in dengue is complex. It is known that endothelial dysfunction induced by cytokines and chemical mediators occurs... Careful fluid management and supportive therapy is the mainstay of management.”
While there’s no specific cure for dengue, a number of pharmaceuticals have made vaccines that are now in clinical trials.
In May 2019, the US Food and Drugs Administration approved a dengue vaccine - dengvex - with major restrictions.
After the outbreak in the Philippines this year, the country's government also approved the use of five other vaccines that are currently undergoing clinical trials.
A study published in the Lancet Child Adolescent Health, on 1 August 2019, said that the NIH dengue vaccine would soon be out of the clinical trial phase.
Like with most vector-borne diseases, wearing clothes that cover you fully, using insect repellent and keeping your surroundings clean can help to ward off the biggest dangers.
If you have flu-like symptoms, your doctor may suggest a blood test to rule out dengue - don’t panic. Instead, focus on taking rest. In most cases, dengue is self-limiting therefore the symptoms subside after the infection has run its course over a week to 10 days. However, as with any viral fever, it is important to stay hydrated throughout.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/dengue-fever
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Updated Date: Aug 22, 2019 12:06:51 IST
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