Dengue fever is a disease caused by a group of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes.
Symptoms of dengue include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash. Although rash is not always present, the presence of fever, rash, and headache (and other pains) is particularly characteristic of dengue fever.
Dengue is being seen more commonly in Pakistan over the past 10 to 15 years. Its prevalence has increased worldwide as well, particularly in other parts of Asia, Africa, Australia and Americas.
The mosquitoes that transmit dengue live among humans and breed in water containers close to, or inside the houses. Unlike the mosquitoes that cause malaria, dengue mosquitoes bite primarily during the day and not during the night. The kind of mosquito that transmits dengue is called Aedis aeygepti. It has striped legs, with tiny white and black rings on them as shown in the photograph. This mosquito is common in Pakistan and most of Asia, Africa, Australia and Asia Pacific region.
An important point to note is that most cases of dengue fever are mild, and patients usually get better after getting mild fever only. Most people who get dengue never know they got this illness.
Because a virus causes dengue fever, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue fever, the treatment is purely concerned with relief of the symptoms and includes paracetamol and lots of fluids to drink. Brufen and aspirin should be avoided in patients with dengue fever and only paracetamol should be used for fever control.
The acute phase of the illness with fever and muscle pain lasts about one to two weeks. In most of the cases, patients get better after this initial phase.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a complication that tends to affect a small number of people who get dengue fever. It causes abdominal pain, bleeding, and circulatory collapse (shock). If any of these symptoms occur, medical help should be sought immediately.
How to prevent dengue fever:
The prevention of dengue fever requires control or eradication of the mosquitoes carrying the virus that causes dengue. You should take immediate action to prevent mosquito bites during the day, particularly early morning and late afternoon by using:
• Insecticide sprays indoors in dark places such as behind cupboards and under beds and tables where dengue mosquitoes like to rest
• personal insect repellant lotions
• flying insect spray (knockdown spray) in the air.
You should also get rid of dengue mosquito breeding sites. Dengue mosquitoes breed in containers that hold water. The dengue mosquito does not breed in rivers, swamps, open drains, creeks or mangroves. These mosquitoes do not like to travel far from mosquito breeding sites. The best form of control is to get rid of dengue mosquito breeding sites around the home. Dengue mosquitoes breed in containers that hold water, such as buckets, discarded tyres, black plastic, pot plant bases, vases, tin cans and plastic containers etc. People should check in and around their homes once a week and throw out, or at least empty old containers containing even tiny amount of water. This should be done specially after the rains.