Dengue fever, also known as bone break fever has become a serious disease in most tropical countries of the world, especially in Asia and Africa. It is an acute viral fever, transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquito. The disease is characterized by fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pains, rash, nausea and vomiting.
Dengue in its severe form can threaten the life of a patient, primarily by increasing vascular permeability which leads to hemorrhage and shock. This severe form is also called Dengue hemorrhagic fever. The rate of fatality in such patients is as high as 44 percent.
What Causes Dengue Fever?
Considered as most severe form of viral fever, dengue is caused by family of dengue viruses DEN1, 2, 3, 4. They all are closely related genetically. The virus is transmitted by a bite of particular species of mosquito called Aedes aegypti.
The virus enters the mosquito when it bites an infected person. The infected mosquito then bites another healthy person and thus spreads the disease. These mosquitoes can be easily identified as they are striped.
Rapid expansion of urbanization, inadequate supply of piped water, increased migration of population between countries and mosquitoes becoming resistant to insecticides are some of the reason for an increase in the transmission of dengue fever.
Signs And Symptoms Of Dengue Fever
There can be range of clinical symptoms due to dengue infection. But sometime the infection may be asymptomatic too. The symptoms begin to appear 4 to 5 days after the infected mosquito has bitten a person. The period between the entry of the virus in the body and its manifestations is called incubation period. So the incubation period of dengue is 4 to 5 days. Many times dengue fever is confused with other viral fevers during the first few days.
- The onset of dengue fever is sudden.
- Fever, pain behind the eyes, headache, body ache, and low backache is severe.
- It is followed by severe lethargy, muscle ache and bone pains. The bone pains are very severe and some people also refer dengue as break bone fever.
- The pulse is low in relation to fever which is very high. It goes as high as 104 to 105 degree Fahrenheit.
- During the early period of sickness there is transient rash or mottling of skin.
- Between the second and sixth day, the appetite becomes less, the patient experiences nausea, vomiting, cold and cough, skin sensitivity and altered sense of taste.
- Pink to red rash appears on the body which spreads to limbs and trunk but mostly spares the face. There may or may not be any itching.
- The lymph glands may become swollen anywhere in the body.
- The soles and palms become red and swollen. Patient may find difficulty in holding any objects. The patient may complain of pain in finger joints when he tries to fold the fingers.
- Small red spots called petechiae are present in lower limbs. There may be bleeding from gums and nose.
- Pain in stomach and dark stools.
- The fever resolves in second week, if there are no complications arising from dengue fever.
Diagnosis of dengue fever is usually made by taking the detailed history and examination. However, in the first few days it is difficult to diagnose dengue as other viral infections such as chikungunya, influenza have similar manifestation. In such situation physicians also rely on blood tests. IgM antibody and IgG antibody blood test are useful in detecting the germs.
Treatment For Dengue Fever
As dengue fever is caused due to virus there is no specific treatment. The treatment is aimed at treating the symptoms.
Patients with dengue fever require rest.
They should be sufficiently hydrated with oral liquids to compensate the losses that result from vomiting, high fever and diarrhea.
To lower high body temperature and body pain antipyretics and analgesics are given. But they should be given only after consulting the doctor.
Home remedies are also useful in treating the symptoms of dengue fever.
- Fenugreek seeds: Prepare fenugreek seed tea by taking 10 to 20 seeds of fenugreek. Boil them in water for 15 to 20 minutes. Let the water cool down and sip this tea two times in a day.
- Crush a piece of fresh ginger and boil it with tea. Drink this tea two to three times in a day. It helps to lower the body temperature.
- Apple and lemon juice are useful to increase the platelet count which are reduced in dengue fever.