Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. It is caused by one of four dengue viruses: DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4. These viruses are transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
DHF is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to the dengue virus. It is characterized by bleeding, low blood pressure, and fluid accumulation in the body. DSS is a more severe form of DHF that is characterized by dangerously low blood pressure.
What causes Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is caused by a virus called dengue virus (DENV). There are four different types of DENV, and infection with one type does not protect you from the other three.
DENV is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The Aedes mosquito is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa. The mosquito breeds in standing water, such as in buckets, tires, and flower pots.
When an infected mosquito bites a person, the virus enters the person’s bloodstream. The virus then replicates in the person’s liver and other organs. The symptoms of dengue fever typically appear 4-7 days after the mosquito bite.
In most cases, dengue fever is a mild illness that goes away on its own within a week. However, some people, especially children, can develop more serious complications, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
Symptoms of Dengue
The severity of the symptoms of dengue fever can vary depending on the person’s immune system and the type of dengue virus they are infected with. In most cases, dengue fever is a mild illness that goes away on its own within a week. However, some people, especially children, can develop more serious complications, such as dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
The symptoms of dengue fever typically appear 4-7 days after the mosquito bite. They can include:
- High fever (39-40 degrees Celsius)
- Severe headache
- Pain behind the eyes
- Muscle and joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
How is dengue fever diagnosed?
Dengue fever is diagnosed by a blood test. The doctor will take a sample of your blood and send it to a laboratory to be tested for the presence of the dengue virus.
- Avoid mosquito bites. This is the most important way to prevent dengue fever. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever bite during the day and night, so it is important to take precautions all day long. You can avoid mosquito bites by:
- Using insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or IR3535.
- Wearing long sleeves and pants, especially when you are outdoors.
- Staying indoors during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk).
- Using mosquito nets when sleeping.
- Treating clothing and gear with permethrin before going outdoors.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. You can help to prevent mosquitoes from breeding by:
- Emptying water from containers around your home, such as buckets, flower pots, and birdbaths.
- Repairing any leaks in your home or yard that could collect water.
- Keeping your gutters clean and free of debris.
- Covering water tanks and cisterns.
- Get vaccinated. There is a vaccine available for dengue fever. However, it is only recommended for people who are traveling to areas where dengue fever is common and who are at high risk of getting the disease.
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