Dengue is a common viral infection spread by mosquitoes. It is widespread in tropical and sub-tropical regions. With more than one-third of the world’s population living in areas at risk for infection, dengue virus is a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics. As many as 400 million people are infected yearly. Dengue is caused by any one of four related viruses transmitted by mosquitoes. There are not yet any vaccines to prevent infection with dengue virus and the most effective protective measures are those that avoid mosquito bites. When infected, early recognition and prompt supportive treatment can substantially lower the risk of medical complications and death.
Dengue has emerged as a worldwide problem only since the 1950s. Although dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States, it is endemic in Puerto Rico and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.
Symptoms of typical uncomplicated (classic) dengue usually start with fever within 4 to 7 days after you have been bitten by an infected mosquito and include
- High fever, up to 105ºF
- Severe headache
- Retro-orbital (behind the eye) pain
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
The rash may appear over most of your body 3 to 4 days after the fever begins, and then subsides after 1 to 2 days. You may get a second rash a few days later.
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
Symptoms of dengue hemorrhagic fever include all of the symptoms of classic dengue plus Marked damage to blood and lymph vessels Bleeding from the nose, gums, or under the skin, causing purplish bruises This form of dengue disease can cause death.
Dengue Shock Syndrome
Symptoms of dengue shock syndrome–the most severe form of dengue disease–include all of the symptoms of classic dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever, plus Fluids leaking outside of blood vessels Massive bleeding Shock (very low blood pressure)
This form of the disease usually occurs in children (sometimes adults) experiencing their second dengue infection. It is sometimes fatal, especially in children and young adults.
There is no vaccine for preventing dengue. The best preventive measure for residents living in areas infested with Ae. aegypti is to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, primarily artificial containers that hold water.
Items that collect rainwater or to store water (for example, plastic containers, 55-gallon drums, buckets, or used automobile tires) should be covered or properly discarded. Pet and animal watering containers and vases with fresh flowers should be emptied and cleaned (to remove eggs) at least once a week. This will eliminate the mosquito eggs and larvae and reduce the number of mosquitoes present in these areas.
The best way to prevent dengue virus infection is to take special precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Several dengue vaccines are being developed, but none is likely to be licensed by the Food and Drug Administration in the next few years.
When outdoors in an area where dengue fever has been found Use a mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus Dress in protective clothing—long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes Because Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day, be sure to take precautions,
especially during early morning hours before daybreak and in the late afternoon before dark.
Other precautions include Keeping unscreened windows and doors closed
Keeping window and door screens repaired Getting rid of areas where mosquitoes breed, such as standing water in flower pots, containers, birdbaths, discarded tires, etc.
Dengue is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with one of the four dengue virus serotypes. It is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults with symptoms appearing 3-14 days after the infective bite.
Dengue is not transmitted directly from person-to-person and symptoms range from mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There is no vaccine or any specific medicine to treat dengue. People who have dengue fever should rest, drink plenty of fluids and reduce the fever using paracetamol or see a doctor.
Severe dengue (also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever) is characterized by fever, abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding and breathing difficulty and is a potentially lethal complication, affecting mainly children. Early clinical diagnosis and careful clinical management by trained physicians and nurses increase survival of patients.