Dengue, or also known as the break bone fever is an infectious disease that is caused by the dengue virus. This illness is usually transmitted by mosquitos, Aedes Aegypti and rarely by Aedes Albopictus. The said virus can exist in four types (DEN 1-4) and exposure to one type would mean a lifelong immunity to that same virus and short-term immunity to the rest.
This acute disease will start off with benign course of symptoms like headache, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and rashes. The famous Dengue Triad is something that you have to watch out: fever, rash and headache. Although there is no available vaccine, precautions against exposure to mosquito bites are very effective.
Dengue viruses can be transmitted through the bites of infective female Aedes mosquitoes. They could easily acquire the virus when they feed on the blood of an infected person. After eight to ten days of incubation period, the infected mosquito is now capable of transmitting the disease for the rest of its life. Once we get infected, we become the main carriers of the virus as our body can multiply the virus instantly. The dengue virus can circulate in our bodies for two to seven days.
Clinical features can differ according to the age of the patient. Nevertheless, the dengue triad will always be present: fever, rash and headache. This is not a life-threatening disease as long as it is caught in the early onset of the disease. Once this condition progresses, it may proceed to become a more severe case, Dengue haemorrhagic fever. At this point, enlargement of the liver and circulatory fever may be your greatest battle.
In moderate cases, most of the signs and symptoms will subside after the halting of the fever. However, in severe cases, it would be all different. The patient’s condition will start to aggravate once the fever cools down; signs of circulatory failure will start and the patient will eventually go into shock within 12 to 24 hours.
The diagnosis of dengue is always clinically-based. Physical examination and the reported symptoms will determine the course of the diagnosis. The initial and probable diagnosis is based on fever and two of the additional symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, rash, low white blood cell count, low platelet count, and positive tourniquet test.
On severe cases, metabolic acidosis, plasma leakage, hemoconcentration, and hypoalbuminemia may be seen in your laboratory tests.
Prevention and Control
Today, the most effective way to fight the vector mosquitoes is through the many ways of controlling and preventing dengue virus transmissions. Aedes mosquitoes breed in stagnant water from old tires, trash bins, flower pots, nearby ponds, and lakes. With that in mind, it is imperative that we halt that process by having improved water storage, clean surrounding and constant changing of water in pots and vases. Application of appropriate insecticides may also help.
You can also prevent mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves especially in their peak activity hours – two hours after sunrise and before sunset. You can use mosquito repellents. And make sure that you use the ones that contain DEET.
Up to date, there are still on-going clinical trials for Dengue vaccines.