With dengue cases being reported from several parts of the country, experts have advised people to take preventive measures to curb the spread of the disease and undergo treatment immediately after symptoms surface. According to them, Dengue fever is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that breeds in still water, hence hygiene and cleanliness are critical for prevention. Dengue fever shares many pathogenic and clinical features with the ongoing Covid-19 virus which might make it very difficult to differentiate the two infections.
“Alongside strengthening the health care systems for early diagnosis, it is very important to make people aware of the disease. Prevention holds the key to protect against dengue fever as there is no vaccine for the mosquito-borne illness. Try to avoid travelling, wear full clothes, Get rid of stagnant water and unclean areas, Mosquitoes savour certain smells, frequent bathing and using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent can help in prevention, says Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, Director, Nurture IVF Clinic, Delhi.
“While there is no specific treatment or cure for dengue, timely medical intervention and symptomatic treatment can be helpful depending on the severity of the disease. Amid COVID-19, the rising number of Dengue cases pose a further challenge,” she adds.
Symptoms of dengue fever may include sudden high fever accompanied by severe headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, joint and muscle pain and pain behind the eyes.
“Dengue needs serious attention. Serious problems include dengue haemorrhagic fever, a rare complication of dengue which presents with high fever, bleeding from the nose and gums, damage to lymph and blood vessels, liver enlargement and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may result in excessive bleeding, shock, and death called dengue shock syndrome,” said Dr Mahendra Dadke, HoD-Internal Medicine, Jupiter Hospital, Pune.
“People having low immunity as well as those suffering from a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at a higher risk for developing dengue haemorrhagic fever,” added Dr Dadke.
Mild bleeding through the nose, gums, or with easy bruising is a symptom of Dengue. Sometimes fever is followed by skin rash after a period of two to five days. Milder cases of infection are seen in younger children and people who develop the illness for the first time as compared to older children and adults (DSS).
There are several ways to keep the infection causing mosquitos at bay:
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks to reduce the amount of skin being exposed to mosquito bites.
- Make use of mosquito repellent with at least a 10 per cent concentration of diethyltoluamide (DEET), or a higher concentration for longer lengths of exposure. Avoid using DEET on young children.
- Use a mosquito net that is pre-treated with insecticide.
- Structural barriers, such as screens or netting on doors and window screens can keep mosquitos out.
- Try not to be outside at dawn, dusk, and early evening
- Treat camping gear, shoes and clothes with permethrin or purchase pre-treated clothes.
- Check and remove stagnant water to help reduce the risk as stagnant water is the breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes.
While there is no specific treatment or cure for dengue, timely intervention can be helpful depending on the severity of the disease.
Treatment for milder forms of dengue includes:
- High fever and frequent vomiting can dehydrate the body, therefore, a person should drink clean water, preferably bottled rather than tap water. Rehydration salts are also helpful to replace fluids and minerals.
- Painkillers such as paracetamol can help lower fever and ease the pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin can increase the risk of internal bleeding and are not advisable.
According to the experts, advanced treatment options are required for more severe forms of dengue fever. Intravenous (IV) fluid supplementation, or drip, in cases where the person cannot take oral fluids would be needed. Patients with severe dehydration may need hospitalisation for further treatment/care.