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Dengue is a disease prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions. Nearly 70% of the disease burden is borne by Asia, with India reporting 110,473 cases and 86 fatalities at the end of October 2022.

Although present perennially, the months of June-September witness the greatest spread of dengue. Here are some quick facts about this disease:

•  What causes Dengue and how does it spread?

Dengue is an infection caused by the Dengue Virus which has 4 main serotypes DENV1 to 4. The virus gets introduced into the bloodstream by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito.


•  What are the Dengue Symptoms?

Dengue Sign and Symptoms may take 2-7 days to develop and can range from mild to life-threatening. Mild symptoms can be confused with other illnesses. As per WHO guidelines, you may be suffering from Dengue if you have it.

High fever (104℉/40℃) along with at least two of the following:

  1. Headache
  2. Pain behind the eyes
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Rashes
  5. Musculoskeletal pain
  6. Swollen glands


•    When is hospitalization necessary?

More severe symptoms may develop 3-7 days after fever subsides. These include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Bleeding gums or nose
  • Blood in vomit or stool
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Excess sleepiness/fussiness and urination less than 1-2 times/day (In babies)

These can progress to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) and Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS) and require immediate medical attention.


•  Does getting infected once offer immunity against future infection?

Getting infected offers lifetime immunity only against that serotype of dengue virus. Future infections with other serotypes are generally more severe with greater risk of complications.


•  Can Dengue fever be transmitted from pregnant mother to baby?

Although rare, transmission from mother to unborn child is possible and may lead to low birth weight and preterm labour.


•  Lab tests for Dengue fever:

  •  Complete blood Count (CBC). Patients with dengue may have a low platelet count.
  •  Rapid tests for a specific viral protein called Dengue NS1 antigen. These tests take around 20 minutes, but do not distinguish between the different serotypes.
  •  Serological tests:
           - ELISA for Dengue IgM antibody. Positivity indicates recent infection
           - ELISA for Dengue IgG antibody. Positivity indicates past infection
  •  PCR for Dengue virus


•  What is the treatment?

Mild cases generally resolve within a week and can be managed at home with Paracetamol, fluids, and rest. Care must be taken to prevent dehydration, especially in young children. Avoid NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Aspirin as these can increase risk of bleeding.


•  Is consumption of papaya an effective treatment for dengue?

Although some invitro studies indicate that papaya leaf extract may help in faster recovery, in vivo studies on a significant number of subjects are yet to be carried out.


•    Can dengue fever be prevented?

As always, prevention is better than cure. Keep your surroundings clean and free from stagnant water to prevent breeding of mosquitos. Mosquito nets and repellants may be used to prevent bites.


•    Is vaccination available?

In India, it is still under development.

Dr. Yazmin C Ashraf

Aster Labs Kottayam