Approx. 10172 cases & 3 deaths by dengue fever have been reported for 2022 so far by NCVBDC*. A majority of the cases are either unreported, asymptomatic or incorrectly diagnosed. With dengue cases increasing, it is wise to read a set of quick warnings, causes, and preventions.
* NCVBDC: National Center for Vector Borne Disease Control
What is Dengue Fever?
When dengue mosquitoes bite humans, it causes dengue fever. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are the primary carriers of this disease. These yellow fever and the Asian tiger mosquitoes grow in moist & damp places and bite during the day. These are both black with white stripes on their bodies.
What are Dengue fever patterns like?
After a usual incubation period of 5-7 days, the dengue fever pattern starts. It progresses through three stages:
The fever can be as high as 104°F and lasts anywhere between 2-7 days. It keeps returning throughout its 3 phases. This breaking and returning of the fever is the classic Biphasic or Saddleback fever pattern.
Dengue is caused by which virus?
The Flaviviridae virus family generally causes Dengue. This virus has four DENV serotypes. DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 & DENV-4 are the four respective types. Each of these can result in a total of four infections.
Dengue Causes (& how it works inside the body)
As per the latest updates from Indian Express, 4405 dengue cases are registered in 8 months. It all starts when the mosquito bites you and transmits the disease.
One of the 4 dengue viruses enters your blood and multiplies.
It infects the most common skin cell type in the body called keratinocytes.
You may feel ill due to the virus as it goes on to replicate within an immune cell called Langerhans cell. It may take 5-7 days for it to react.
The virus with immune cells travels to the lymph nodes and tricks the immune system. Instead of targeting the virus, it starts targeting the WBCs and PLTs. This drops the white blood cells and platelet counts drastically.
The virus travels throughout the body affecting the bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and bloodstream in general.
The virus can damage blood components that help you create clots and give your blood vessels shape. Internal bleeding may result from this causing blood to flow out of your vessels. This results in severe dengue symptoms, which can be fatal.
7 Warning Signs of Dengue Fever
If you are suffering from severe fever with any of these symptoms, there are high chances that it is Dengue:
Excessive nausea, fatigue, and restlessness
Vomiting (at least 3 times a day)
Mild bleeding from nose/gums and blood in stool and vomit
Skin rash and patches
Severe aches in the head, abdomen, or body
Pains in joints, muscles, eyes, sockets/behind the eyes
An early warning sign may state that a patient will develop severe dengue.
Why is Dengue worse the second time?
With 4 different dengue viruses, one can get infected as many as 4 times in a lifetime. Antibodies from the 1st infection increase the virus in the bloodstream. Memory B cells induce the production of more antibodies. This makes the virus infect host cells more easily. This is the "antibody-dependent enhancement" response of your immune system making it worse.
Your immune system produces other cells called Cytotoxic T cells. They start releasing molecules called Cytokines in excess quantities. What may be otherwise helpful ends up causing serious inflammation and tissue damage. The risk of severe internal bleeding from capillaries and liver damage increases.
Treatment for Dengue
As per WHO, there is now no specialized treatment for the dengue fever virus.
Experts tell us to follow 'Symptomatic Cures'. These cures aim to ease your body's symptoms without addressing the root cause. Some of them include:
Wear loose, airy clothing.
Apply warm water to the forehead, armpits, and groin area when the fever temperature is below 38.5 C.
Use over-the-counter pain medicines like paracetamol to lower your fever, headache, and joint pain.
Take time to relax and hydrate well before your doctor's physical examination.
Have a lot of fluids like coconut water, juices, papaya leaf juice, and neem juice.
Consider going to a hospital to be under supervision.
*Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen
Treatment for joint pain after dengue fever
Acc. to health experts, during the recovery period of dengue, it's typical to experience joint and muscular pain for a few days.
Acc. to studies, chronic muscle, and joint pain may be an autoimmune illness. It can be treated with corticosteroids or simple exercises.
They encouraged patients to eat foods rich in vitamins D and E for a quick recovery.
*Note - Before consuming any medicine, please consult with the doctor.
Here are some steps that can protect you from this fatal disease:
Reducing mosquito breeding habitats is crucial.
Some key areas include tires, plastic covers, flower pots, pet water bowls, and others.
Make sure your house windows are shut during the day as well and the door screens are free of holes.
The most favorable time for the dengue virus is from dawn to dark. It is the time when these dengue mosquitoes are active and virulent.
Long-sleeved clothing, full pants, and covered shoes can prevent mosquito bites.
Camphor has the power to destroy many kinds of pests. Light some in your room every other day for roughly 30 minutes.
With so many medical negligence cases on the rise in India today, take time to educate yourself about diseases like dengue. With dengue vaccines like CYD-TDV in practice and others in various stages of trials, one has to be extra cautious about hospital treatments.
The Author :
Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.