Dengue Fever

MANILA, Philippines --- Dengue is a flu-like viral disease spread by bite of infected mosquitoes.

What is dengue fever?

Dengue fever is flu-like illness spread by bite of an infected mosquito.

What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe, often fatal, complication of dengue fever.

How is dengue spread?

Dengue is spread by bite of an Aedes mosquito. The mosquito transmits the disease by biting an infected person and then biting someone else.

The mosquitoes that transmit dengue live among humans and breed in discarded tires, flower pots, old oil drums, and water storage containers close to human dwellings. Unlike the mosquitoes that cause malaria, dengue mosquitoes bite during the day.

Signs and symptoms

Dengue fever usually starts suddenly with:

* High fever.

* Rash.

* Severe headache.

* Pain behind the eyes.

* Muscle and joint pain; the severity pf the joint pain has given dengue the name "break bone fever"

* Nausea, vomiting.

* Loss of appetite is common.

* A rash usually appears 3 to 4 days after the start of the fever. The illness can last up to 10days, but complete recovery can take as long as a month. Older children and adults are usually sicker than the young children.

Most dengue results in relatively mild illness, but some can progress to dengue hemorrhagic fever. With dengue hemorrhagic fever, the blood vessels start to leak and cause bleeding from the nose, mouth, and gums. Bruising can be a sign of bleeding inside the body. Without prompt treatment, the blood vessels can collapse, causing shock (dengue shock syndrome). Dengue hemorrhagic fever is fatal in about 5 percent of cases, mostly among children and young adults.

How soon after exposure do symptoms appear?

The time between the bite of a mosquito carrying dengue virus and the start of symptoms averages 4 to 6 days, with a range of 3 to 14 days. An infected person cannot spread the infection to other persons but can be a source of dengue virus for mosquitoes for about 6 days.

How is dengue diagnosed?

Dengue is diagnosed by a blood test.

Who is at risk for dengue?

Anyone who is bitten by an infected mosquito can get dengue fever. Risk factors for dengue hemorrhagic fever include a person's age and immune status, as well as the type on infecting virus. Persons who were previously infected with one or more types of dengue virus are thought to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever if infected again.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for dengue. Persons with dengue fever should rest and drink plenty of fluids. They should be kept away from mosquitoes for the protection of others. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is treated by replacing lost fluids. Some patients need transfusions to control bleeding.

How dengue can be prevented?

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue. Prevention centers on avoiding mosquito bites when traveling to areas where dengue occurs. Eliminating mosquito breeding sites in these areas is another key prevention measure.

Avoid mosquito bites when traveling in tropical area:

* Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing.

* When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.

* Avoid heavily populated residential areas.

* When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use bed nets if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned.

* If you have symptoms of dengue, report travel history to your doctor.

Eliminate mosquitoes' breeding sites in areas where dengue mighty occur:

* Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around homes. Discard items that can collect rain or run-off water, especially old tires

* Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pet and animal water containers.

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