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Top 10 Things You Should Know About Dengue fever

Dengue fever (Break - Bone fever) is caused by the dengue virus while mosquitoes act as carriers. With an estimated population of 2.5 billion people under the risk of dengue, and recent outbreaks reported from India and other south East Asian countries, has made headlines across the globe.

But, the general population is still largely unaware of the causes, treatment, and vaccine and prevention measures. Here are the top 10 things you should know about dengue fever.

#1 Cause

Dengue is caused by the dengue virus which includes the four distinct serotypes DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4, all belonging to the genus Flavivirus and family Flaviviridae. The virus multiplies inside the infected humans who act as host.

The incubation period is 3-15 days. The Asian serotypes DEN-2 and DEN-3 are the leading causes of severe dengue. With a single strand of RNA and just ten proteins in its genome, it''s a very small virus. But it produces more proteins once it's inside a cell and creates more viruses.

Immunity is developed for lifetime against the serotype on cure from the first incidence, but other serotypes can still affect the person leading to dengue hemorraghic fever.

#2 Symptoms

Suspect dengue fever if  high fever (40degreeC/ 104degreeF) persists along with severe headache, muscle and joint pains, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. 4- 10 days after the mosquito bite, the symptoms start developing.

However, in severe cases, primary symptoms develop into acute forms with plasma leaking, respiratory distress, severe abdominal pain, rapid breathing, persistent vomiting, fatigue which can lead to organ impairment.

#3 Prevention and control

Inform government health agencies to clean stagnant water bodies and smoke the locality. Mosquito repellents and nets can protect you while indoors. In the outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts, full pants and shoes to avoid mosquito bites.

Get rid of flower vases, discarded tires, open water storage containers, flower pots, water bowl of our pets, and unsealed septic tanks. During early morning and evening, close all the windows and stay protected from mosquito bites (Dengue is found to be caused by bites during this time).

#4 Treatment

There are no treatments available for dengue. Talk to your doctor early to control the disease from taking a severe form. Early disease management includes oral rehydration therapy, while administering intravenous fluids  and blood transfusion can help fight the severe form.

Failure to treat early may develop into a severe form. Secondary infection (Dengue caused again by a different serotype) can be very severe developing into dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or Dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

Problems liked dysfunction of endothelium and disordered blood clotting  can occur in severe cases caused by antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE).

#5 Dengue Can be Fatal

When affected human beings develop mild dengue fever (DF) or in extreme cases develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and Dengue shock syndrome (DSS). For severe cases, body fluid levels should be monitored and maintained.

Fatality rates are as low as 1%, but for secondary infections can prove to be dangerous and Dengue shock syndrome (DSS) can prove to be really fatal with mortality rate around 40%.

#6 Prevalence

Dengue was prevalent in the Tropical and Sub-Tropical regions, but recently the virus has found its way into other regions (owing to its adaptability to new environments). An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world are at the risk of dengue fever.

However, dengue virus can survive best in tropical climates and multiply faster. Poor sanitation and water clogging in slums and unclean habitats in south East Asian countries and Africa put these countries at more risk.

#7 Do & Dont's

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Dengue fever

Dont's: Remove all sources of stagnant water in and around the house. Clean old flower pots, old tires, garage, and un-used things and article. Use smoking to avoid mosquitoes.

Apply mosquito repellents and use mosquito nets. Wear Protective clothing. Don't take Aspirin, Brufen and Ibobrufen

Do's: Speak to your physician if fever persists. Watch out for symptoms unique to Dengue fever. If Dengue develops the second time (Secondary), Take extra care. Complete rest, Paracetamol, Sponging and adequate fluid intake.

Refer these guidelines by Indian Government Agency for Dengue Treatment

#8 Diagnosis (Earlier the better)

Diagnosis involves isolation of the virus using serological tests or molecular methods. Wide used methods include RT-PCR or nested RT-PCR to detect dengue viral genes in acute-phase serum samples. Further methods viz.

IgM antibody capture ELISA (MAC-ELISA), IgG ELISA, NS1 ELISA, PCR and PRNT are used to find the severity of the infection. However, Dengue NS1 Antigen test proves to be the most effective in early detection and helps contain the severity.

#9 Spread / Transmission - The Mosquito

Mosquito bites are the main source of transmission especially in the early morning or evening (Dawn and Dusk).

The mosquito species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are the primary carriers of the virus. After an incubation period of 4 -10 days, the mosquito can transmit the disease throughout its lifetime.

The virus is also passed on to the offspring through the eggs.  These mosquitoes are highly adaptive to environment and the eggs are fertile even in dry conditions for months and need little water for hatching.

#10 No Vaccines

As of 2012, there are no vaccines available for Dengue. However, on-going research and trials indicate, a dengue vaccine will be made available by 2015. Challenges include finding a dengue vaccine to develop immunity against the four serotypes, and therefore a tetravalent vaccine is needed to eliminate the incidence of the disease.

Companies'' viz. Inviragen, Sanofi Pasteur and the US government sponsored NIH (National Institutes of Health with its recombinant tetravalent dengue vaccine (CYD-TDV)) have shown some progress in the development of a dengue vaccine.