What Is Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever is one of the most serious public health problems around the world. In fact, it is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease worldwide, causing about 50 million infections and around 25,000 deaths every year, with more than 2.5 billion people risking transmission.

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is an acute febrile disease caused by four different serotypes (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4). People infected with any serotype can have a classic dengue and will have a lifetime immunity to that specific serotype.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a more serious type of dengue, which usually occurs when a second, different serotype infects a person. The aedes aegypti mosquito, which feeds usually during the day, transmits dengue fever to humans. Unlike malaria, dengue fever often occurs in urban areas in tropical countries such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Brazil, and Puerto Rico.

What are the signs and symptoms of dengue?

A person infected with dengue will feel feverish and experience muscle and joint pains and severe headache. Rashes usually develop on the skin. Gastritis may also occur, along with diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, or abdominal pain.

Other symptoms of dengue fever include the following: bleeding from nose or gums, constant headaches, chills, loss of appetite, and severe dizziness. In milder cases, when rashes don’t develop, doctors often misdiagnose dengue fever as influenza or some other viral infection. Dengue fever lasts for about 6-7 days. The platelet count of an infected person will drop until his or her temperature returns to normal.

Typical manifestations of DHF include an initial sudden onset of fever, usually lasting 2-7 days. After defervescence, patients usually have few blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), signs of hemoconcentration (decreaseed plasma volume that results in an increase in the red blood cell concentration), petechiae (a small reddish or purplish spot on the body), and ecchymosis (skin discoloration due to the escape of blood from torn blood vessels into the tissues.

Dengue fever diagnosis

The diagnosis of dengue is made clinically. The most common condition is high fever without localizing source of infection, relative leukopenia (decreased the number of circulating leukocytes or white blood cells in the blood), and a petechial rash associated with thrombocytopenia.

The definition of DHF by the World Health organization has been used since 1975. All of the following criteria must be met: (1) evidence of plasma leakage, (2) thrombocytopenia, (3), hemorrhagic tendency, and (4) fever, constant headaches, bladder problem, loss of appetite, and severe dizziness.

How is dengue fever treated?

Supportive therapy is needed. Patients need to increase their oral fluid intake in order to avoid dehydration. If a patient can’t maintain oral intake, supplementation with intravenous fluids can fight dehydration and prevent the significant blood concentration.

In some rare cases, platelet transfusion is indicated if platelet levels drop dramatically or if significant bleeding occurs. Aspirin is not recommended because it may worsen bleeding tendency. Paracetamol preparations are recommended in dealing with symptoms if dengue fever is suspected.