Dengue: Symptoms, causes and treatment

By Anisha Oommen

The alarming rise in cases of dengue across cities in the country has become an increasing cause of worry. It now more important than ever to be aware of the risk factors, and protect yourself. Prevention in this case, is truly better than cure.

What is dengue?
Dengue is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person, i.e., is not contagious. A person can only become infected by the bite of a mosquito that is infected with the dengue virus. It is important to note that these mosquitoes bite during the daytime as well as nighttime.

Symptoms
Dengue usually begins with chills, headache, pain while moving the eyes, and backache. Persistent high fever is characteristic of dengue. Other symptoms to watch out for are exhaustion, backache, joint pains, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure and rash.

Treatment
Because dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for it; treatment of dengue is typically concerned only with the relief of symptoms. People who show the symptoms mentioned above should immediately consult a physician. It is important to drink plenty of fluids, stay hydrated, and get as much rest as possible.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)
DHF is a more severe form of dengue and can be fatal if untreated. It tends to affect children under the age of ten, and causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).

Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue. Prevention of dengue requires eradication of the mosquitoes that carry this virus. This means high standards of hygiene and sanitation. Avoid areas littered with garbage. All containers of stationary water (like drums or buckets) should be covered or discarded, including flower vases and pets' feeding bowls. If your area is infested with mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, use mosquito repellants and fumigate if necessary.

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Wed 29 Aug, 2012 12:30 PM IST