Dengue and Severe Dengue – Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention and Control

Dengue and Severe Dengue: Dengue is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with any one of the four dengue viruses (DEN 1, DEN 2, DEN 3 and DEN 4). It occurs in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. Symptoms appear 3-14 days after the infective bite. Dengue fever is a febrile illness that affects infants, young children and adults. Dengue fever virus (DENV) is an RNA virus of the family Flaviviridae; genus Flavivirus.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world. In recent years, transmission has increased predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas and has become a major international public health concern.

Severe dengue (previously known as Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever) was first recognized in the 1950s during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand. Today, severe dengue affects most Asian and Latin American countries and has become a leading cause of hospitalization and death among children in these regions.

Symptoms: Symptoms range from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. There are no specific antiviral medicines for dengue. It is important to maintain hydration. Use of acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. aspirin) and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Ibuprofen) is not recommended.

Treatment: There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. For severe dengue, medical care by physicians and nurses experienced with the effects and progression of the disease can save lives – decreasing mortality rates from more than 20% to less than 1%. Maintenance of the patient’s body fluid volume is critical to severe dengue care.

Prevention and Control: At present, the only method to control or prevent the transmission of dengue virus is to combat vector mosquitoes through:

  • Preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental management and modification.
  • Disposing of solid waste properly and removing artificial man-made habitats.
  • Covering, emptying and cleaning of domestic water storage containers on a weekly basis.
  • Applying appropriate insecticides to water storage outdoor containers.
  • Using of personal household protection such as window screens, long-sleeved clothes, insecticide treated materials, coils and vaporizers.
  • Improving community participation and mobilsation for sustained vector control.
  • Applying insecticides as space spraying during outbreaks as one of the emergency vector control measures.
  • Active monitoring and surveillance of vectors should be carried out to determine effectiveness of control interventions.

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