The Dengue Virus
The disease known as dengue fever is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito carrying one of the dengue viruses. Normal dengue symptoms are flu-like, but they can deteriorate into severe dengue (dengue hemorrhagic fever), a condition that can be fatal. A second infection raises your likelihood of developing serious symptoms. Even if you have already had dengue, you can still obtain the vaccine.
Rash, eye pain, nausea or vomiting, and muscle ache are all signs of dengue. Severe symptoms include gastrointestinal pain, blood in the feces or vomit, and more.
If you exhibit warning signs of severe dengue and reside in or are visiting a region where the disease is prevalent, get medical help very away. This includes experiencing stomachache, bleeding gums or a nose, frequent vomiting, acute exhaustion, or restlessness.
How to define dengue fever.
You can contract dengue fever by being bitten by a mosquito carrying one of the four strains of dengue virus (DENV). Tropical and subtropical locations, such as Central and South America, Africa, some sections of Asia, and the Pacific Islands, are where the virus is most frequently found.
Except for when it is transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child, dengue is not infectious from person to person. The initial infection normally has modest symptoms, but if you develop a second infection with a different strain of DENV, your chance of serious problems increases.
Who is impacted by dengue fever?
Africa, Central, and South America, some regions of Asia, and the Pacific Islands are where dengue is most frequently found. Dengue is present in a few areas of the United States. More than half of the world’s population, who reside or travel to these areas, are most at risk. The chance of developing a major illness is higher in children and the elderly.
The frequency of dengue fever.
According to research, about 400 million people contract dengue each year, but the majority (almost 80%) show no symptoms.
Can you develop a dengue fever immunity?
Yes, after contracting the virus, you can develop immunity to a particular strain. This is quite hard because there are at least four different strains of the virus (DENV). Your immune system has tools at its disposal that it can employ to identify illnesses and improve at warding them off. Your body searches its toolbox while it battles a virus to identify the tool (antibody) that can neutralize that specific threat.
Each hazardous invader to your body is specifically targeted by an antibody, which binds to it as a key does to a lock. Your immune system eliminates the target once antibodies cling to it. You are unlikely to contract that virus again once your body has learned how to resist it.
You should not be able to contact one of the four strains of DENV once you have. However, other versions do not fully fit that strain’s antibodies as well. Therefore, if you later contract a different strain of DENV, it may be able to fool your immune system (antibody-dependent enhancement) by taking advantage of this poor fit.
The different strain can be drawn into your cells by the antibody against the original strain you had, but — for unclear reasons — it is not eliminated. It then enters your cells without your cells being aware of its danger. As a result, the virus can more easily infect you and lead to more serious sickness.
Symptoms you need to look out for:
Many dengue patients have minor or no symptoms and recover in 1-2 weeks. Rarely, dengue can be fatal due to its severity.
When they do, symptoms often appear 4–10 days after infection and continue for 2–7 days. Some signs could be:
- (104°F/40°C) high fever
- back of the eyes pain
- severe headache
- joint and muscle pains
- enlarged glands.
Severe dengue is more likely to affect people who have already been infected once.
Strong dengue symptoms frequently appear after the fever has subsided:
- acute stomach discomfort
- Continuous vomiting
- quick breathing
- bleeding gums or a nose
- extreme thirst
- pale and chilly skin
- feeling frail.
Insist on immediate medical attention if you experience these serious symptoms. People who have had dengue may have fatigue for several weeks after recovering.
Most folks get better in about a week. In some situations, symptoms might get worse and even be fatal. Severe dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever, or dengue shock syndrome are terms used to describe it.
Your blood vessels become damaged and leaky with severe dengue. Additionally, the quantity of platelets in your blood decreases. Shock, internal bleeding, organ failure, and even death may result from this.
There can be speedy development of severe dengue fever warning signs, which is a life-threatening emergency. The warning signals, which may include the following, may appear within the first day or two after your fever has subsided.
- terrible tummy aches.
- continual vomiting
- bleeding from the nose or gums
- Having blood in your feces, urine, or vomit
- under-the-skin bleeding that may resemble bruises.
- fast or difficult breathing
- drowsiness, irritability, or exhaustion
What causes dengue fever?
One of the four dengue viruses is what causes dengue illness. The dengue virus can enter your blood and multiply when a mosquito biting you transmits the disease. You may feel ill due to the virus itself and the immune system’s reaction.
The virus can damage blood components that help you create clots and give your blood vessels shape. Internal bleeding may result from this, combined with specific immune system-produced substances, causing blood to flow out of your vessels. This results in severe dengue symptoms, which can be fatal.
How is dengue fever transmitted?
Aedes mosquitos, which also spread diseases like Zika and chikungunya, spread dengue. A person with dengue fever is bitten by a mosquito, who subsequently bites another person, infecting them.
Is the dengue illness spreadable?
Unlike the flu, dengue fever cannot be transmitted from one person to another. Only if a pregnant woman contracts the disease can someone else contract dengue. If you contract dengue while pregnant or giving delivery, you could infect your unborn child.
How is dengue fever identified?
Blood tests are used to diagnose dengue disease. To check for dengue virus, your healthcare professional will draw blood from you and send it to a lab for analysis. Additionally, this could tell you which of the four versions you have. A blood test might be used by your doctor to check for additional infections that cause comparable symptoms.
How can you treat the dengue fever symptoms?
The only method of treating dengue fever is to cure your symptoms. Pay attention to your doctor’s advice, which may include:
- maintaining hydration by consuming a lot of liquids and water.
- obtaining as much sleep as you can.
- using just acetaminophen, such as Tylenol®, to treat pain.
- Take no aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil®). Your chance of internal bleeding that could be fatal may increase as a result.
How can you lower your chance of getting dengue fever?
Avoiding mosquito bites and being vaccinated are the two major strategies to safeguard against dengue.
Protection from insects
The greatest strategy to lower your chances of contracting dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:
Use insect repellents that are EPA-registered and include 20% to 30% DEET or other compounds that are known to help deter Aedes mosquitoes.
Outside, cover any exposed skin, especially at night when there are more likely to be mosquitoes.
Eliminate any standing water (boilers, birdbaths, and old tires that may retain rainwater) and fill any low areas where water may collect.
By patching screen gaps and, if you can, keeping windows and doors closed, you can keep mosquitoes out of your house.
In places where dengue is prevalent, use mosquito netting at night.
If possible, stay away from visiting dengue-prone areas if you are expecting.
When traveling, be sure to contact the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to find out if there are any disease outbreaks in the area before you arrive.
Vaccination for dengue
You should only get the dengue vaccine (DengvaxiaTM) if you have already had the disease. If you contract a different strain of the dengue virus in the future, it may lower your risk of developing severe dengue (dengue hemorrhagic fever).
It is not advised to get the vaccine if you have never experienced dengue. Being immunized before contracting dengue for the first time can raise your chance of developing severe dengue since a previous infection with the virus increases your likelihood of becoming sicker if you contract another strain of the virus (antibody-dependent enhancement). To establish that you had dengue before receiving the vaccination, your doctor will do a blood test to look for indicators of a prior illness.
Not everyone can get vaccinated. To determine whether you qualify for the dengue vaccination, speak with your healthcare practitioner.
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