Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection that affects millions of people worldwide, causing a wide range of symptoms.
In some cases, dengue can progress into a potentially life-threatening condition.
Recognizing the distinctions between dengue and severe dengue and knowing how to both prevent and handle these conditions is of paramount importance for public health. Below are essential insights into the fundamental facts of these illnesses.
What is dengue fever?
Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, transmitted to humans primarily through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes.
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Dengue fever typically presents a wide range of symptoms, including severe headaches, high fever, muscle pain, rashes and, occasionally, mild bleeding. In the majority of instances, dengue fever follows a mild and self-limiting course with symptoms typically subsiding within a week.
How serious is the dengue virus?
The seriousness of the dengue virus can vary widely depending on the specific strain of the virus, the individual’s age, overall health and access to medical care.
Dengue fever is generally characterized as a mild to moderate illness. However, severe forms of the disease can be life-threatening.
Severe dengue represents an intensified and potentially life-threatening variant of the disease. It can manifest with severe abdominal pain, vomiting, fast and shallow breathing, along with a weak, accelerated pulse.
In the most critical cases, severe dengue can advance to dengue shock syndrome, marked by a sudden drop in blood pressure that may lead to fatal consequences.
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Notably, individuals with a prior dengue infection face an elevated risk of developing severe dengue if they are reinfected with a different dengue virus serotype.
What are the 4 stages of dengue fever?
Dengue fever typically progresses through four stages, each characterized by specific symptoms:
1. Febrile phase: This is the initial stage of dengue fever, lasting for about two to seven days. The primary symptom is a sudden fever, often reaching up to 104 F. Other common symptoms include severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, and a rash.
2. Critical phase: After the febrile phase, some individuals enter a critical phase, usually around the time the fever subsides. This phase typically extends for one to two days, during which the likelihood of progressing to severe dengue significantly rises.
3. Plasma leakage phase: During this stage, the blood vessels become more permeable, leading to the leakage of fluid from the bloodstream into surrounding tissues. This can result in symptoms like a sudden drop in blood pressure, fluid accumulation, and shock.
4. Recovery phase: This stage presents increased urination, as the leaked fluids are reabsorbed into the bloodstream.
Patients typically start to feel better, but they may experience fatigue and weakness for an extended period.
It is essential to note that not all individuals with dengue fever progress to severe dengue. Most dengue cases are mild and self-limiting, with symptoms resembling the febrile phase.
However, identifying warning signs and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial to preventing severe dengue and its potentially life-threatening complications.
What is the best treatment for preventing dengue?
Preventing dengue and severe dengue relies on controlling the mosquito vectors and taking personal protective measures.
Mosquito control: Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home by removing stagnant water in containers, using mosquito nets, and installing screens on windows and doors.
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Travel precautions: If traveling to regions where dengue is endemic, take extra precautions to avoid mosquito exposure.
Early diagnosis: Seek medical attention promptly if you suspect you have dengue, as early diagnosis and proper medical care can reduce the risk of severe dengue.
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Dengue and severe dengue represent significant global health concerns, particularly prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. To effectively fight these diseases, it is important to distinguish between their characteristics, identify symptoms, and implement preventive measures.
By remaining well-informed and implementing proactive strategies, both individuals and communities can play a pivotal role in reducing the impact of dengue and severe dengue, contributing to their control and prevention.
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