Dengue seemed to have taken a back seat in the news the last year but it is fast becoming a household concern, yet again. With 9,669* dengue patients being reported in Sri Lanka so far in 2021, it is safe to say that dengue ‘is back’ (not like it ever went away though). So we at oDoc are breaking it down for you. We go into detail about the causes, treatment and prevention of dengue, so keep reading!
What is dengue and how is it caused?
Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease. Dengue viruses spread among people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same types of mosquitoes that spread Zika and chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes breed and lay eggs in still water (in buckets and pots in your garden which has collected water). These eggs can even survive up to 1 year and can withstand dry conditions till they are in water again.
Is dengue contagious?
Dengue is not contagious so you cannot catch the virus via contact with an infected person. However, an infected mother can pass the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. In the case of infected breastfeeding mothers, it is encouraged that they continue breastfeeding their infant due to the benefits of breastfeeding. So far, there has only been 1 case of the virus passing to the infant via breast milk.
What are the symptoms of dengue?It is said that 1 out of 4 people who are infected with the dengue virus will get sick and can show mild to severe symptoms. Mild symptoms include high fever along with a combination of aches and pain in muscles and joints, rashes and nausea. Symptoms last about 2–7 days. Most people will recover after about a week. Severe cases of dengue usually require hospitalisation. Symptoms and warning signs include:
- Belly pain, tenderness
- Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
- Feeling tired, restless, or irritable
If you are showing any of these symptoms or warning signs, seek medical attention immediately. It is also important to note that these warning signs usually begin 24–48 hours after your fever has gone away.
What’s the treatment for dengue?
Unfortunately, there is still no specific treatment to cure dengue. However, it is vital that you rest as much as possible and keep yourself hydrated by taking a lot of fluids if you are diagnosed with dengue. You can also take paracetamol (do not take aspirin or ibuprofen) to help with the fever and body aches and pains.
It is advised to seek medical advice rather than self-diagnosing and opting for self-treatment.
What can you do to prevent dengue?
- Keep neighborhoods clean and free of still water
- Frequently clean garden, pots, vases and balconies
- Wear clothes that cover the body and minimize exposure to mosquito bites
- Always use mosquito repellents
- Use mosquito nets
- Installing net screens on doors and windows.
In these difficult times, it is vital we look after ourselves and our loved ones. If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of the above-mentioned symptoms you can speak to an on-demand doctor on oDoc from the comfort of your home.
Stay indoors. Stay safe.
*At day of writing (13th July 2021)
- Epidemiology Unit – Ministry of Health. (2021, July 13). Dengue update. Epidemiology Unit – Ministry of Health Sri Lanka. https://www.epid.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171%3Adengue-update&catid=51%3Amessage-for-public&Itemid=487&lang=en
- Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 28). Dengue | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/index.html
- Dunkin, M. A. (2010, July 26). Dengue Fever. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/dengue-fever-reference
- WHO. (2019, July 8). Preventing Dengue in Sri Lanka. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/srilanka/news/detail/08-07-2019-preventive-action-is-vital-to-curtail-dengue-outbreaks-in-sri-lanka