Dengue fever has become one of the most dreaded diseases in some parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. The disease is considered most widespread viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. The clinical features of this acute viral fever in its milder form are high body temperature, severe body ache, rash, reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting.
The disease in its severe form can cause dengue hemorrhagic fever, where the symptoms are severe bleeding, low blood pressure and shock. The case fatality of dengue hemorrhagic fever is as high as 44%. The disease is caused by bites of particular species of female infected mosquito called Aedes Aegypti, usually associated with human habituation.
There is no specific medicine for this viral disease, but strict observation for any hemorrhagic episode and proper hydration are important measures to be taken.
Clinical Features Of Dengue Fever
The disease is acute in onset. It takes 4 to 5 days for manifestation of symptoms once virus enters in human body after the bite of infected mosquito. The symptoms appear suddenly, they are;
- Sudden rise in body temperature. Fever is as high as 104 degree Fahrenheit. Fever disappears after 5 days.
- Severe headache and body pain, especially in the lower back and legs. It is therefore often called break-bone-fever.
- Pain in and around eyes.
- During the early illness transient rash and skin mottling is often observed. Rash appears between 1st and 5th day.
- Between 2nd and 5th day patient experiences nausea, vomiting, low appetite, altered taste sensation.
Majority of patients recover from the illness after 6 to7 days. Dengue virus disappears after 5 days and the patient becomes non carrier. Even though fever disappears, patient may feel weak and depressed for several weeks.
In some cases the disease may result in complication and a threat to life. There may be bleeding from gums, nose and other sites. The clot forming mechanism may fail and there is sudden fall of blood pressure leading to shock. Death may result as a consequence.
What Causes Dengue Fever?
- Dengue fever is a viral infection spread by female species of Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The virus enters Aedes Aegypti mosquito when it bites an infected human. The disease is not spread from human to human by touch. However, it can be transmitted through infected blood transfusion.
- The characteristic of Aedes Aegypti mosquito is it bites during day time. They breed in clear and stagnant water such as in open water tanks, stagnant clean water in overhead tanks, ponds etc. Usually they bite in early morning and late evening hours.
- Dengue fever is caused by four dengue viruses DEN 1,2,3 and 4. Infection with one of the viruses produces lifelong immunity to that virus but not to the others.
- Dengue usually occurs in urban area where there is inadequate supply of piped water. Water in stored in open tanks and containers. Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes breed in this fresh and stagnant water. Increased movements of human population, development of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes are some of the reasons for rise of dengue transmission in recent years.
Diagnosis Of Dengue Fever
Dengue fever usually occurs similar to other viral fevers in its early stage. The disease is suspected clinically from its symptoms. Blood tests give specific diagnosis. Circulating virus remains detectable in blood during the fever stage.
IgM antibodies in acute stage become detectable by sixth day. More advanced tests such as NS1 can detect the disease in first few days itself. There is low platelet count. White blood cells are also reduced.
Can Dengue Fever Be Treated At Home?
Most cases of dengue fever can be treated at home. Hospitalization is required if dengue is in its severe state.
- Maintain body fluid level to compensate for losses due to vomiting and diarrhea. Drink enough water, juices, coconut water, lemon juice etc. You can also take oral re-hydration solution (ORS).
- Eat bland diet consisting boiled vegetables, rice gruel, soups, toast, bananas, apple etc. Avoid eating fried and oily food.
- Cold sponging all over body helps to reduce fever. Anti pyretic medicines may also decrease high body temperature.
- Monitor blood pressure.
- Juice of Papaya leaves is found beneficial in treating dengue fever. Prepare the juice by pounding and squeezing the leaves. Take care to remove the stem and avoid mixing the sap. Take one teaspoon two times in a day. It is known to raise the platelet count. The two enzymes Papain and Chymopapain present in papaya helps to elevate the platelet levels.
- The juice of coriander is also beneficial in treating dengue fever. Take one tablespoon of this juice two times in a day.
- Eat 10 leaves of basil daily. Basil has properties to boost the immune system and it helps to prevent dengue where there is an outbreak.