Dengue is transmitted by the mosquito that is infected with the dengue virus and the symptoms usually develop within 3-14 days after the bite. This can affect infants, children and adults alike with the symptoms ranging in severity in each case while some presenting mild fever to high fever, muscle and joint pain. The severe form is known as dengue hemorrphagic fever which can be life threatening causing a sudden drop of blood pressure, severe bleeding and may even result in death. Early diagnosis can assist in the prompt and effective supportive treatment by lowering the risk of developing complications and death.
This is caused by one of the four types of dengue viruses that are transmitted by mosquito bites. Once an individual becomes infected with one of the dengue virus, they will develop immunity to the virus, but it is possible to be infected with any of the other three types of the dengue viruses. The infection commonly occurs when the mosquito feeds on the blood of the infected individual and continues to transmit the virus to the others. After the incubation period of the virus, which is usually around eight to ten days, the mosquito can continue to transmit the virus during its lifetime. The other form of transmissions can occur from the mother to the child, although dengue is not transmitted from person-to-person.
Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms which commonly occur after an incubation period of around 10 days. Individuals with dengue exhibit mild to high fever, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, joint pain and headaches. In some cases, individuals may also experience rash, nausea, vomiting and minor bleeding from the gums. Although most cases can recover within a few weeks, some individuals may develop life-threatening complications such as damaged and leaky blood vessels. It is important to get immediate medical help particularly when additional symptoms occur such as difficulty breathing, drowsiness, red spots on the skin, severe abdominal pain and persistent vomiting.
The diagnosis of dengue is difficult as the symptoms can often be confused with other illness such as typhoid fever. The clinical evaluation can be based on various laboratory tests such as total white blood cells count, hematrocrit and thrombocytopenia.
There is no specific treatment such as antibiotics that can cure dengue as it is caused by the virus. The treatment usually consists of various medications to relieve the symptoms, getting plenty of rest and to prevent dehydration from vomiting and high fever by keeping well hydrated. Medications are usually required to alleviate the pain and to lower the fever. In the case of severe dengue, the affected individual may require supportive care in the hospital. A platelet transfusion may be necessary in the case of severe bleeding or if the platelet level decreases significantly.