Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, that usually occur in the tropics. It is caused by 4 related virus serotypes of flavivirus. Backbone fever is another name for dengue fever because it can extremely cause pain. Mosquitoes usually bite at dawn and dusk but can also bite anytime especially in dark areas, indoors and during cloudy and rainy weather.
Incubation of dengue fever ranges from five to fifteen days before signs appear on the infected person. It usually starts with fever, headache, swollen glands, joint pains and rash. There is rapid increase in body temperature and low heart rate. Other signs can also be pain behind the eyes. Sign of dengue fever lasts up to four days and is followed by sudden drop of temperature and sweating. There will be a day or two of normal body temperature then a second rise in body temperature followed by pinkish rash on the skin with bleeding gums and red soles and palms. Clinical test will show result of low platelet count.
For Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), this is a severe case of dengue, will show higher body temperature and there can be bleeding of nose, ears, moth and blood may also ooze from the skin pores. It can also cause vascular leak syndrome in which fluids in the blood vessel leaks through the skin and goes into spaces around the belly and lungs. Blood pressure will fall due to fluid loss and can lead to Dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Dengue can affect other body organs that may lead to liver dysfunction, gastroenteritis, renal impairment and meningo-encephalitis.
Diagnosis of dengue is through clinical tests. Complete blood count will show low platelet count or called thrombocytopenia. Patients with dengue also show positive result in tourniquet test. There is also bruising, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and bleeding. And plasma leakage is evident. In defining primary and secondary cases of dengue, Rapid Diagnostic test is used to avoid turning into life threatening fever.
Since dengue is caused by virus, there is no specific antibiotic to treat it. The treatments concern is to give patients relief from its symptoms. To prevent dehydration, supplementation of intravenous fluid and oral hydration therapy is recommended. It is critical to monitor vital signs too. Platelet transfusion may also arise depending on the severity of the disease. Rest is also required for patients to recover and regain strength for faster recover.
The use of no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin should only be taken if prescribed by doctor to avoid worsening hemorrhage. Patients can use paracetamol for joint and muscle pain. Dengue fever can be prevented by interrupting transmission of the virus. Patients can wear long sleeves and pants. Netting can also be used. Use of skin repellant is also advised. Try to limit exposure to mosquitoes by avoiding going out before sunset and after sunrise. Emptying stagnant water from trash cans, tin cans, flower pots and old tires can also help in removing places where mosquitoes live.
There is no vaccine available for dengue fever so it is best to be cautious and avoid areas where you can get it. Seek medical help if you think you have the said symptoms for correct diagnosis.