July 23rd, 2015
More than 1,800 cases of dengue have been reported in Delhi till September 12 even as the government attempts to contain the outbreak. Official data showed that more than 600 cases were reported in the last week alone reported by Indian Express. Dengue fever is an alarming disease as it is life-threatening and also vaccines to combat it are unfortunately not available. Hence, it is vital to sensitise oneself against the causes and symptoms of dengue fever so as to effectively prevent and combat it.
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease i.e. it is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito which is infected with a virus. The severe form of dengue fever is called dengue hemorrhagic fever which can lead to excessive bleeding, stomach pains, vomiting, the rapid drop in blood pressure and even death. It can have a severe effect on the health of infants, young children and even adults.
What are its Symptoms?
When a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes 3-14 days for the symptoms to appear. These may include:
Vomiting, Nausea, Skin rash, Severe muscle and joint pain, High fever, Pain behind the eyes and Bleeding in the nose, gums or the person gets easily bruised.
Risk factors to watch out for
- It is advisable to avoid or be cautious in areas generally known to have dengue outbreaks especially if no mosquito control is put in place to prevent it.
- If a person has been once infected with dengue fever, the second infection can prove fatal with severe symptoms.
Tests and Diagnosis
Dengue fever can be diagnosed with a blood test, but it should be noted that the diagnosis becomes complicated as its symptoms can be easily confused with those of other diseases for instance malaria, typhoid etc. Even with a proper diagnosis, the results arrive too late to achieve a quick treatment. It is hence advisable to share with the doctor any trips to dengue prone areas, or any contact with mosquitoes etc to help direct a treatment.
There is no specific treatment or medicine for dengue fever. If you think you might be infected it is recommended to take pain relievers with acetaminophen but one must be careful to not use medicines with aspirin as they can worsen bleeding. It is prudent to take ample rest, drink plenty of fluids and see a doctor for immediate diagnoses and treatment. In severe cases, the doctor may also counsel supportive care in a hospital which can include intravenous (IV) fluid and electrolyte replacement, blood pressure monitoring and transfusion to replace blood loss. There have been cases where lives have been lost due to insufficient supply of blood banks.
Platelet and plasma transfusion are crucial to the treatment of patients, and shamefully enough, people have been lost due to inadequate supplies from blood banks. Blood should be donated only at registered hospitals or clinics, which take adequate measures for donor protection, and make appropriate use of the same. Every unit of blood is stored separately as red blood cells, platelets and plasma; thus, for each unit donated, up to three lives can be saved, for no cost to self as the body easily replenishes the volume withdrawn. It is hence encouraged of the local population to donate blood as it can save lives and is also not a threat to the donor as the body is capable to restock the blood donated.
Prevention is better than Cure
As there is no specific vaccine for the disease, and the diagnosis is generally late, it is highly advisable to know the risk the factors of the disease and educate oneself as well as the society about its causes and symptoms. Prevention is the best method to combat the outbreak of the disease and in this attempt the people, as well as, the government must take immediate and proper steps to control it.
Steps which can be taken as preventive measures against dengue fever are:
- Avoid dengue prone areas.
- Make use of mosquito repellents, even indoors.
- While travelling or staying outside cover your exposed skin to prevent mosquito bites
- Use of mosquito nets where air-conditioning is not available or where there are entry points for the mosquitoes is highly recommended.
- As a community, steps should be taken to get rid of the breeding place of mosquitoes as during monsoon seasons, places that collect rain fester with mosquitoes. Local administrative units send workers with insecticidal sprays to kill the mosquitoes. Whenever possible, all houses should be thoroughly sprayed. Water coolers should be drained clean.
- All possible areas where water can collect in and around our houses must be regularly cleaned to prevent breeding. Drains, wells and overhead tanks must be kept covered at all times.
- Puddles and pits on roads should be reported to local authorities, and filled at the earliest. Should this not be possible, spraying kerosene over the water surface as a thick layer, too, is effective.
- General measures like personal hygiene, clean surroundings, and a good nutritious diet do enhance body immunity and reduce the risk of illness.
In consideration of these guidelines it is important to be vigilant, cautious and sensitised against dengue fever. Prevention is must to stay safe, healthy and protected against the onslaught of dengue fever. And as requested earlier, healthy people should come forward to donate blood so that the dengue-infected people who have had suffered severe loss of blood can be saved.
The Logical Indian urges all readers to stay alert, take care of their health and surroundings, and whenever possible, donate blood.