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Dengue on the rise: understand and prevent yourself!

Dengue on the rise: understand and prevent yourself!

Dengue, an emergent viral infection has increased exponentially with the onset of monsoon. Dengue cases continue to climb in TN and across the country too. The effects of climatic change and its consequences increase the incidence of dengue now. Increased population due to urbanization and deforestation have also favored the conditions of the vectors to thrive. Areas with poor sanitation and water stagnation provide an ideal ground for mosquito breeding.

Dengue is caused by the four types of dengue virus which are predominantly transmitted if an infected female Aedes mosquito bites. Considering dengue has no vaccine, it is better to prevent than treating after infection. There is no specific drug too to treat the disease. It is important to take complete bed rest and maintain fluid balance in the body.

Diagnosing dengue

Medics/pathologists use blood tests to check for the presence of viral antibodies in the body. There are two primary tests available to test the infection – molecular testing and antibody testing. The antibody test helps to detect dengue antibodies in an initial blood sample which in turn helps to identify whether the patient is infected with the dengue virus recently. Once the infection is detected Plaque Reduction Neutralization Test will be used to confirm the presence of dengue antibodies and to rule out other viral infections. Molecular testing using PCR detects the presence of the virus and is considered the most reliable means of diagnosis. The positive result from PCR test is considered conclusive.

Initially, it is difficult to diagnose without the support of pathological analysis as the symptoms may resemble other diseases like chikungunya, malaria, and typhoid. If the warning signals are not averted and if the physician ensures early and adequate treatment at the initial stage, then the risks and death rates can be drastically reduced.

Dengue symptoms

Dengue symptoms are difficult to recognize as the early symptoms like fever, headache and body ache resemble those of other diseases like chikungunya, typhoid, and malaria. There are chances for misdiagnosing dengue. While 75% of dengue infections are asymptomatic 20% of infections are mild to moderate. Only 5% of cases are severe dengue and require hospitalization.

The symptoms are

– High fever
– Severe headache
– Paint behind eyes
– Severe joint and muscle pain
– Skin rashes
– Nausea and vomiting
Symptoms of dengue typically lasts for two days to a week. Most people will recover after a week. Something like COVID, the infection does not protect you from recurrence as there are four different dengue viruses. In many cases the second time infection is more serious. Even if you have slightest doubt of it being dengue, visit the doctor to confirm and for further treatment.

Treatment

There is no specific medication available to treat the disease. There is no vaccine too. The best available option is complete rest with maintaining the body fluid levels. If you visit the doctor the doctor will diagnose and prescribe medication depending on your body condition. While treating dengue patients, physicians should remember the ‘Formula of 20’ i.e., rise in pulse by more than 20; difference between low and high BP of less than 20; fall of BP by more than 20 and presence of more than 20 hemorrhagic spots after a tourniquet test suggest a high-risk condition and the person need immediate medical attention.

Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure. This fits apt in the case of dengue spread. The most excellent way to prevent is to prevent bites by infected mosquito.

The following precautionary measures helps to protect oneself from dengue:

– Try to stay away from densely populated areas
– Use mosquito repellent, both at indoor and outdoor
– While stepping out, wear long sleeved shirt and pant with socks covering the toes
– Make sure that the door and window are free from holes. Fit mosquito nets at door and window or use a mosquito net at bed
– If you have any symptoms or even have the slightest doubt of dengue infection, visit a general physician at the earliest
– Stagnated water is the breeding point of mosquitoes. Keep your locality dry and free from water stagnation. Change the water regularly in the dishes used for watering pets.
– Be more vigilant as a bite of an infected mosquito will spread the infection to others at home

It’s very simple – if you don’t want to get infected with dengue, don’t let the mosquito bite you. Be more vigilant and cautious.

Article authored by
Dr. Thomas George
Diabetologist and General Physician
Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani, Chennai

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