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Dengue fever is a viral infection that is caused by the dengue virus, also known as DENV. This is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes and is considered one of the most dangerous mosquito-borne viral diseases. Dengue virus, or DENV, can spread through the Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti or Ae. albopictus). This is the same mosquito species that also spreads Zika, chikungunya, and several other viruses, and it is the only cause of dengue infection.
The dengue virus is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions. This infection is caused by four different but closely related viruses, known as DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4. Recovery from a dengue infection provides lifelong immunity against that particular virus variant. This is the reason why an individual can get a dengue infection multiple times, but every time it is caused by a different type of virus.
This is a flu-like illness that can cause several symptoms, with fever being among the first ones. Generally, fever in dengue infections is followed by a few other issues. An infected individual will start showing symptoms 4–10 days after infection, and they will last for 2–7 days.
Some of the most common symptoms of dengue fever are:
At times, the infected individual starts experiencing a few symptoms after the fever subsides. These symptoms are severe, and such individuals need medical attention. Some of these symptoms are:
It is not necessary for every individual who is infected with dengue to show symptoms. In many cases, dengue infections are asymptomatic, and in some other cases, they only cause mild illness. However, DENV can also cause a more severe infection, leading to dengue hemorrhagic fever. It causes severe bleeding or shock and can prove to be fatal but that is very rare.
The primary mode of transmission of the dengue virus is through mosquito bites between humans. Since it is a mosquito-borne viral infection, it is very common in the monsoon seasons, as it is the most favourable time for mosquitoes to breed. This also means that an infected person cannot spread dengue fever to other people through coughing, sneezing, etc. However, like other viruses, maternal transmission is a possibility in the case of dengue virus as well. If a pregnant female gets a dengue infection, the chances are high that it can affect her unborn baby.
Generally, the symptoms of dengue fever start subsiding within a week with normal medication, and the infected individual takes 9–10 days to recover completely. But in some cases, these symptoms can worsen and become life-threatening. This condition is called severe dengue, and to avoid that, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for a dengue fever diagnosis. To detect the presence of dengue virus in an individual’s body, the doctor may suggest a blood test. A dengue blood test also helps them determine the severity of the infection. There are four common types of blood tests used to detect dengue fever:
A normal, healthy human being has a platelet count between 1.5 and 4 lacs. But in dengue infections, the platelet count starts decreasing at a faster rate. By ordering repeated blood tests for the infected individual, the doctor will be able to figure out if he or she is recovering or if his/her condition is deteriorating.
Prevention and control of this infection depend on vector control. In order to prevent the spread of this viral infection, it is important to take steps to prevent mosquito bites. This can be done by wearing protective clothing, using insect repellent, and avoiding areas where mosquitoes are known to be prevalent. Other than this, it is also important to eliminate any stagnant water around your home, as it can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Although there is no specific way of treating dengue infection, one can take certain medicines for fever and to reduce the pain. However, early detection and getting proper medical care at the right time are the only ways that can help reduce the chances of a severe infection. This is why it is important to seek medical attention as soon as one experiences any symptoms that indicate a dengue infection. The doctor may suggest some medicines to reduce the fever caused by the infection. Along with the basic treatment for dengue fever, individuals with an active infection should take enough rest and drink plenty of liquids. It is also important to watch out for severe symptoms and consult a doctor whenever required.