Dengue fever, primarily associated with tropical climates, is a mosquito-borne ailment. It poses a heightened risk during the wet seasons and, if overlooked, can advance from mild symptoms to severe, life-threatening conditions.

What Causes Dengue Fever?

Dengue is attributed to the dengue virus, which is of four varieties: DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4. The primary transmitter is the female mosquito. When this insect feeds on an individual already afflicted with dengue, the virus takes residence in the mosquito's digestive system and saliva. After an incubation span of roughly 12 days, any subsequent bites from this mosquito might transfer the virus.

Individuals who recover from one dengue variant gain immunity against it. However, exposure to a different variant can lead to re-infection, typically with more intense symptoms.

The persistent propagation of the virus variants and their evolving mutations make achieving complete immunity challenging and eradication efforts complex.

Who is Most at Risk?

While anyone can contract dengue, the risk of severe outcomes is higher for:

  • Infants and elderly individuals
  • Expectant mothers
  • Individuals with stomach ulcers or those experiencing unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Individuals prone to hemolysis or other abnormal hemoglobin issues
  • Those with inherent heart disorders or chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, hypertension, kidney diseases, or liver cirrhosis
  • Individuals on corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Spotting the Symptoms of Dengues

Common dengue manifestations include fever, aches in the eyes, body pains, joint discomfort, and a heat rash-like skin eruption. Some may also experience bleeding, such as nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

For dengue hemorrhagic fever, the symptoms encompass:

  • Persistent high fever (over 38°C) for 2-7 days
  • Appetite loss, nausea, and vomiting
  • Facial flushing, skin redness, or varied bleeding patterns
  • Intense abdominal pain, especially upon application of pressure
  • In extreme scenarios, after a fever episode, some may face circulation issues or dengue shock syndrome, exhibiting symptoms like restlessness, reduced urination, cold extremities, and undetectable pulse.

Most dengue patients, barring those entering the shock phase, should notice symptom alleviation and a return of appetite after a week.

Diagnosis Process

Due to symptom overlap with other viruses like chikungunya or zika, precise dengue diagnosis involves:

  • A Comprehensive Blood Count (CBC) to scrutinise blood constituents
  • Direct immunisation tests for the dengue virus or NS1 Ag

Indicators like sporadic bleeding with a diminished platelet count suggest potential dengue. However, extremely low platelets combined with other factors might indicate the critical Dengue Shock Syndrome, warranting urgent care.

Managing Dengue

No specific antiviral treatments exist for dengue, but symptom management can be effective. Drinking ample water, warm baths, consuming easily digestible foods, and paracetamol can alleviate symptoms. NSAIDs or aspirin are discouraged due to bleeding risks.

Severe symptoms necessitate immediate medical attention.

Prevention Strategies

Counteracting dengue involves:

  • Mosquito bite prevention through appropriate clothing and repellents
  • Eliminating mosquito breeding sites by covering water reservoirs and maintaining a clutter-free environment
  • Considering vaccinations for individuals aged 9-45 who've previously contracted dengue