Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral infection reported in various countries all over the globe. Generally, the infection is mild and settles in a week without triggering any lasting effects. In rare instances though, it can become serious and life-threatening.
Even today, there is no specific treatment or vaccine which is why it is vital to avoid being bit by mosquitoes when staying or visiting in areas where the disease has been reported.
Dengue is spread by infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes aegypti and albopictus strains. These mosquitoes bite during the day, usually early morning or in the early evening before dusk. The mosquitoes are often present around sources of stagnant water including in water storage tanks and wells.
The indications of dengue generally arise abruptly in 4-10 days after being infected such as:
- Fever than can reach up to 40 degrees C or higher
- Pain behind the eyes
- Intense headache
- Generalized feeling of being sick
- Muscle and joint pain
- Appetite loss
- Widespread red-colored rash
These symptoms typically pass in around a week, but the individual might still feel tired and slightly sick for several weeks after.
In rare instances, a severe case of dengue can develop after the initial symptoms arise.
Management of dengue
Even at the present, there is no available cure or specific treatment for dengue. The treatment aims on relieving the symptoms while the infection runs its course.
Generally, treatment can be done at home such as:
- Paracetamol can be given for the fever and pain
- Increase the intake of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Adequate rest
The individual should start to feel better in a week but it might take a few weeks before feeling normal again. Seek medical care if the symptoms do not seem to improve.
There are measures that can help avoid being bit by mosquitoes. The following measures can help lower the risk:
- Apply an insect repellant – use products that contain 50% DEET are highly effective but lower concentrations (15-30% DEET) should be used for children. Other alternatives to DEET must be used for children below 2 months old.
- Use loose, protective clothing – suitable options include long-sleeved shirts, trousers with socks and shoes
- Use a mosquito net – it is recommended use that has been treated with an insecticide