Dengue fever is spread over most tropical areas of the world. It is a type of arthropod-borne virus that is carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito spreads the virus to a human being through its bite. Once the human has been bitten, the virus travels through the glands. When it reaches there, it multiplies and can enter the blood stream. Fortunately, dengue fever is not a contagious disease and cannot be passed from one person to another.
The fever usually starts with a sudden, high body temperature that ranges from 104-105°F. In the earlier phases of the infection, a flat, red rash may appear over most parts of the body. In the later stages of this disease, a second rash that resembles measles may appear. People who have been infected by this virus may have increased sensitivity in their skin. Apart from these, the other symptoms are:
- A headache
- Pain in the joints
- Pain in the muscles
- Swelling in the lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
Serious cases of this dreadful fever are the dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) or dengue shock syndrome (DSS). A person who has had dengue fever is protected by antibodies, which prevent it from occurring again for about a year. Though it is important to mention that severe cases are related to patients who have already had the virus. This is because the immune system recognizes the virus and overreacts.
Places Where Dengue Fever is Common
Dengue fever is common in Africa, China, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, South and Central America, the Caribbean islands, Australia, and the South and Central Pacific. This disease usually occurs during or shortly after the rainy season.
This dreadful fever can be confirmed by a blood test. There are 2 testing methods that are used to detect if an individual has contracted this disease. In the first method, the virus is detected by a culture, while in the other test, it is detected by the anti-dengue bodies present in the blood.
Treatment focuses on medicines which are used to lower fever and reduce body pain. Fluids and bed rest are two important components of getting better. In extreme cases, blood transfusion is implemented. For patients that suffer from dengue shock syndrome (DSS), oxygen has to be provided. Almost all the patients have a complete recovery from this ailment.
Since there is no vaccination to prevent dengue fever, you need to take care of yourself while traveling to the destinations where dengue is prevalent. You can do this by taking the following measures:
- Using mosquito repellents.
- Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants tucked into socks while outdoors.
- Avoiding going into areas that are very crowded.
- Sleeping with bed nets on, if the sleeping area is not screened or air-conditioned.
- Keeping the area that surrounds your living quarters clean.
- Making sure there is no stagnant water nearby.