ARTICLE ON DENGUE FEVER
What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles. Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) can affect anyone but tends to be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because it is caused by one of four serotypes of virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular serotype to which the patient was exposed.
Dengue goes by other names, including "breakbone" or "dandy fever." Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint and muscle pain, hence the name breakbone fever.
A view of patients in one of the wards at the Government Children's Hospital in Chennai
How is dengue fever contracted?
The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. The mosquito flourishes during rainy seasons but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, and cans year-round. One mosquito bite can cause the disease.
SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
Aedes aegypti mosquito
The virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. There must be a person-tomosquito-to-another-person pathway.
What are dengue fever symptoms and signs?
After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, the incubation period ranges from three to 15 (usually five to eight) days before the signs and symptoms of dengue appear in stages. Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes,...