Dengue fever

Dengue is the single most popular term in Bangladesh today, and is synonymous to ‘panic!’ The outbreak of Dengue in 2019 was very severe and broken all previous records. About 50,000 people were affected by Dengue in Bangladesh alone, and deaths were more than 100. People were so much panic-stricken that for any kind of fever they were running for platelet count! Hospitals were overloaded with suspected Dengue patients. It has now become essential that people must have adequate knowledge about Dengue Fever and panicking is never a solution. Dengue fever (another name “break bone fever”, because it causes severe physical pain) is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. This may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. Recovery generally takes two to seven days. In a very small proportion of cases, the disease develops into severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs. Dengue is spread by several species of female mosquitoes of the Aedes type.

Methods of prevention include reducing mosquito habitat and limiting exposure to bites. This may be done by getting rid of or covering standing water and wearing clothing that covers much of the body.

Dengue fever is found throughout the world, but mainly occurs in tropical and subtropical areas. It is widespread in regions of Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Eastern Mediterranean, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania. It’s common in more than 110 countries, infecting 50 to 528 million people and killing approximately 10,000 to 20,000 people every year. It’s interesting to note that all four dengue viruses originated in monkeys and independently jumped to humans in Africa or Southeast Asia between 100 and 800 years ago. Dengue remained a relatively minor, geographically restricted disease until the middle of the 20th century.

The origins of the word dengue are not clear, but one theory is that it is derived from the Swahili phrase “Ka-dinga pepo”, meaning “cramp-like seizure caused by an evil spirit”. The Swahili word “dinga” may possibly have its origin in the Spanish word “dengue” that refers to the bone pain. The term dengue fever came into general use only after 1828. The disease is usually milder in children than adults.

What is the best treatment for dengue fever? There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. If you think you may have dengue fever, you should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid medicines with aspirin, which could worsen bleeding. You should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and see your doctor. So, with any case of fever people shouldn’t jump around, instead allows the patient enough rest, unless the symptoms of Dengue are vivid.

How dangerous is the dengue fever? Dengue Fever by itself is a common and curable disease. Only if it turns into ‘Severe Dengue’, it can damage the lungs, liver or heart. Blood pressure can drop to dangerous levels, causing shock and, in some cases, death. The symptoms of severe dengue include: Severe blood plasma leakage.

What is dengue fever and what causes it? Dengue fever is caused by any one of four types of dengue viruses spread by mosquitoes that thrive in and near human lodgings. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream.

How long does dengue virus stay in the body? The virus circulates in the blood of an infected person for 2-7 days, at approximately the same time that the person develops a fever. Patients who are already infected with the dengue virus can transmit the infection via Aedes mosquitoes after the first symptoms appear (during 4-5 days; maximum 12).

How long it takes to recover from dengue? Recovery from dengue is complete but slow, with fatigue and exhaustion often persisting after the fever has subsided. The convalescent phase may last for 2 weeks.

Dos and Don’ts for dengue patients? Dengue patients will take Acetaminophen or Paracetamol to control fever and relieve pain. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen. Get plenty of rest and drink fluids to prevent dehydration. During the first week of infection, dengue virus can be found in your blood.

Does dengue go away by itself? The answer is Yes. The virus can cause fever, headaches, rashes, and pain throughout the body. Most cases of dengue fever are mild and go away on their own after about a week. But if you plan to travel to a foreign country, especially one in the tropics, it’s wise to guard against dengue fever.

Does dengue need hospitalization? No, unless symptoms of ‘Dengue’ turning into ‘Severe Dengue’ appear. Even if normal Dengue Fever is detected, it must not cause panic. We need to be careful only. Severe adverse outcome among young adults with uncomplicated dengue fever is rare. Instead of hospitalization, daily outpatient monitoring with symptomatic treatment and medical leave may be a safe and feasible alternative.

Can we take bath in dengue? Sometimes your doctor will recommend you to take a bath in fever, as this will help keep one calm and cool. Dr. Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi says one can even take a head bath during fever but then they must dry their hair properly.

Can dengue happen twice? Yes. It is possible to get dengue more than once. There are four different strains (serotypes) of the dengue virus. If a person has suffered from one virus, there can be a repeat occurrence if a different strain is subsequently involved.

What should a dengue patient eat? Best foods to recover from Dengue Fever are as follows:

  • Papaya. For those who are suffering from dengue, the juice of Papaya leaves is the best option to go for.
  • Broccoli. Broccoli is an excellent source of Vitamin K which helps to regenerate blood platelets.
  • Pomegranate. Pomegranate is rich in essential nutrients and minerals that provide the body with required energy.

Colonel Z. R. M. Ashraf Uddin,psc, G (retired)

Reference:, retrieved 05.09.2019.

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