Dengue fever is a viral infection which is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterized by fever, a rash and muscle and joint pains. Dengue fever is caused by several related viruses. It is transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes, found in tropic and sub tropic regions.
Dengue fever begins with a sudden onset of a high fever, often reaching up to 104-105 degrees Fahrenheit, a headache and slightly later, the appearance of severe joint and muscle pains. A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body during the early part of the fever. A second rash, measles-like in appearance, develops later in the disease. Infected people may also have increased skin sensitivity and be very uncomfortable.
Dengue fever should not be confused with Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is a separate disease and frequently fatal. Certainly in the first stages of illness, dengue fever is difficult if not impossible to clinically distinguish from the many other possible causes of similar symptoms and signs.
- Muscle aches (myalgia)
- Joint aches (arthralgia)
- Enlarged lymph nodes
Rehydration is necessary if dehydration is evident. The high fever can be treated with acetaminophen (but avoid aspirin).
There is no vaccine currently available for dengue fever. Using personal protection against mosquitoes, for example clothing, mosquito repellent and netting, and traveling during periods of minimal mosquito activity can be helpful. Mosquito abatement programs may reduce the risk of infection.
All varieties of mosquitoes breed in or near water which is stagnant or slow moving. The importance of mosquitoes in transmission of the disease makes adequate control of mosquito-breeding sites very important, especially those close to human habitation.
In Urban areas, mosquitoes may breed in any pools of standing water such as empty tin cans, old tires, water filled tire tracks, coconut shells and the saucers under domestic pot plants. Rural mosquitoes breed in rice paddies, stagnant ponds and slow moving streams. Do not allow water to stagnate anywhere and destroy mosquitoes and their larvae.
As a treatment, acetaminophen products are recommended by doctors. Aspirin and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen should be avoided. The patient should be given a lot of fluids and must also be taken to a hospital so that the condition can be taken under control immediately.