Dengue: Deadlier than you think

Dengue: Deadlier than you think

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The numbers of dengue cases are increasing every year in the country, with no vaccine yet in sight. This article looks at the symptoms of dengue fever and how you can protect yourself against the disease.

It is a menace that refuses to abate – every year, there are rising number of dengue patients all over the country, and there are increasing numbers of dengue-related fatalities as well. Most people assume that dengue is not that serious, and it is certainly isn’t in the initial stages. However, it can become dangerous when the fever progresses.

What causes dengue?

Dengue is a vector-borne disease that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes to human beings. It typically has a three- to seven-day incubation period in the system. The mosquitoes breed in stagnant fresh water and can cause varying symptoms, from fever to body pain. Dengue is predominantly seen in subtropical countries and most commonly in South East Asia and Africa. However, it has recently spread to Latin American countries as well.

The symptoms of dengue fever

There are many symptoms of dengue fever, and these are often confused with those of malaria. Thus, the chance of misdiagnosis is high, but the right treatment can alleviate symptoms and help you recover faster. Be on the alert for these symptoms of dengue fever:

  • Mild to high fever, accompanied by body pain
  • Joint pain, which makes it difficult to move
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Pain while moving the eyes
  • Headache

However, these symptoms of dengue fever point to a milder form of the disease. In some cases – exacerbated by lack of immunity, or an adverse internal reaction to dengue or even delayed treatment – dengue can take a serious turn. It begins to afflict the blood circulation system in the body, and can even become fatal. The dangerous symptoms of dengue fever include –

  • Internal haemorrhaging beginning with the capillaries and progressing to other blood vessels. At this stage, the person experiences bleeding from the gums, nose, under the skin (which look like bruised blotches), and traces of blood in the urine and faeces
  • Vomiting, sometimes with traces of blood in it
  • Severe abdominal paining and cramping
  • Abrupt drop in blood pressure
  • Respiratory distress
  • Skin that feels cold to the touch
  • High fever and fatigue

What can you do about it?

Unfortunately, modern medicine has not yet found a vaccine or cure for dengue. At best, medication can suppress the symptoms of the disease, while also helping the body create antibodies to fight off the infection. In such a scenario, the only course of action to pursue is to prevent the dengue-infected mosquitoes from biting you or your loves ones.

* Start by removing all spots of stagnant freshwater. These are found in water buckets, plant pots, old storage drums, tires outside the house, corrugated sheets on the roof, etc. If there is a swimming pool near the house, it should be checked by the municipal authorities for signs of breeding.

* Prevent the entry of mosquitoes inside your house, and repel those that are already in. Use a mosquito-repellent spray in all rooms of the house – the spray zaps lurking mosquitoes and kills them before they can bite you. Keep all doors and windows closed prior to and after spraying the house.

* Use electrical plug-in mosquito repellents in the rooms where you and your loved ones sleep at night. The repellent emits a vapour that snuffs out mosquitoes and creates a protective barrier around you as you sleep, thus keeping you protected.

* When outdoors, light a mosquito-repelling card that emits a light smoke to drive away mosquitoes. This is useful for outdoor meals and picnics, where you cannot spray a mosquito repellent.

* Wear loose clothing that does not cling to the skin. Mosquitoes are able to bite through cloth fibres, so loose clothes are better that create space between the cloth fibres and the skin.

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