What is dengue and what causes dengue?

What is dengue and what causes dengue


 Have you ever experienced or heard about dengue? Whether your answer is a yes or no, you should know that dengue is real, dangerous and can be conquered. You may think that common illnesses and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer, malaria, typhoid , to mention a few are the only ones that exist. No, they are not. There is also a disease known as dengue and the next few minutes you are going to dedicate reading this article will educate and inform you all about the dangerous dengue.

What is dengue?

Dengue, also known as Dengue fever or breakbone fever is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by the dengue virus, which is mainly found in the tropical regions. The disease may produce such body pains in such a way that one feels like his/her bones break. The major symptoms of dengue include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and a characteristic skin rash similar to measles that occurs all over the body. In small portion of cases, this disease may develop into a more life threatening form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which results in bleeding, thrombocytopenia (decrease in blood platelet count), blood plasma leakage or the more fatal dengue shock syndrome, which causes dangerously low blood pressure.

What is dengue and what causes dengue

What Really Causes Dengue?

Many species of mosquito under the genus aedes transmit dengue but a bite from aedes aegypti specie is mainly responsible for the transmission of the dengue virus. These mosquitoes usually live between the latitudes of 35° North and 35° South below an elevation of 1,000 meters. This species of mosquito breeds in stagnant water and they typically bite during the day, particularly in the early morning and in the evening, thus spread infection at any time of day all during the year. The virus circulates in the blood for 2-7 days after the human is affected, during which the mosquito may acquire the virus by biting the infected human and spread it to another unsuspecting victim. Other aedes species that transmit the disease include albopictus, polynesiensis and scutellaris. Humans are the primary host of the virus, but it also circulates in nonhuman primates. An infection can be acquired via a single bite.

Dengue fever virus (DENV) is an RNA virus that belongs to flaviviridae family (genus flavivirus). Other members of the same genus include yellow fever virus, West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, tick-borne encephalitis virus, Kyasanur forest disease virus, and Omsk hemorrhagic fever virus. Most are transmitted by arthropods (mosquitoes or ticks), and are therefore also referred to as arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses).

Dengue can also be transmitted through infected blood products and organ donation. In countries such as Singapore, where dengue is endemic, the risk is estimated to be between 1.6 and 6 per 10,000 transfusions. Vertical transmission (from mother to child) during pregnancy or at birth has been reported. Other person-to-person modes of transmission have also been reported, but are very unusual.

Dengue Diagnosed

It has been earlier said that a person diagnosed with dengue will exhibit symptoms such as skin rashes, severe headaches, constant fever etc. But these symptoms seem life-threatening if not taken seriously.   A probable diagnosis is based on the findings of fever plus two of the following: nausea and vomiting, rash, generalized pains, low white blood cell count, positive tourniquet test, or any warning sign in someone who lives in an endemic area. Warning signs typically occur before the onset of severe dengue. The tourniquet test, which is particularly useful in settings where no laboratory investigations are readily available, involves the application of a blood pressure cuff at between the diastolic and systolic pressure for five minutes, followed by the counting of any petechial hemorrhages; a higher number makes a diagnosis of dengue more likely with the cut off being more than 10 to 20 per 1 inch.

Severe dengue is defined as that associated with severe bleeding, severe organ dysfunction or severe plasma leakage. The 1997 W.H.O classification divided dengue into undifferentiated fever, dengue fever, and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue hemorrhagic fever was subdivided further into grades I–IV. Grade I is the presence only of easy bruising or a positive tourniquet test in someone with fever, grade II is the presence of spontaneous bleeding into the skin and elsewhere, grade III is the clinical evidence of shock, and grade IV is shock so severe that blood pressure and pulse cannot be detected. Grades III and IV are referred to as "dengue shock syndrome".

Owing to the unavailability of any approved vaccine or injection, prevention by following certain basic steps will be the most effective way to fight this dreadful disease. Some of the ways to prevent the onset of dengue are stated as follows:

  • It is advisable not to allow the existence of stagnant water especially around places like flowerpots, buckets, barrels etc. and around the house, as these are the favourite places for mosquitoes to lay eggs.
  • People can prevent mosquito bites by wearing clothing that fully covers the skin, using mosquito netting while resting and the application of insect repellent
  • Bleaching powder can be used for water sources that are not meant for drinking, as it prevents the development of mosquito eggs.
  •  Reducing open collections of water through environmental modification is also a preferred method of control, given the concerns of negative health effects from insecticides and greater logistical difficulties with control agents.
  • One is advised to avoid strong perfumes, as mosquitoes are drawn towards strong body odours.
  • It is healthier to avoid being outdoors during dawn, dusk or early evenings when mosquitoes tend to roam around in the open.


Treatment for Dengue

There are actually no known antiviral drugs or injections available for the cure of dengue. However, the disease can be treated with plenty of supportive care and treatment that would eventually help save the patient’s life. Dengue is characterized by fever and intense body ache. The fever can be treated with antipyretic drugs such as paracetamols and the body ache can be treated with analgesics that help relieve the pain. Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided as they may increase the risk of hemorrhage. The patient can also be treated with natural home remedies such as papaya leaves, kiwi and other food items that have been proven to help in the increase of platelet count, which gets affected during dengue.

Now that you well educated about dengue fever, I hope your answer to the first question in this educative and health advocacy article will be a capital and confident YES. Ensure and try your best to be stay healthy because “health is wealth.”

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