Dengue is a serious viral infection caused by a specific group of infected mosquitoes. These mosquitoes feed both indoors and outdoors during the daytime and can make you very ill with just a simple bite. Read more to learn about dengue and some of its symptoms.
What is dengue?
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that is common in tropical countries like the Philippines. According to the Department of Health (DOH) “dengue is the fastest spreading vector-borne disease in the world, endemic in 100 countries,” the DOH also recorded a total of 185,000 cases of dengue in the Philippines last 2012-2016. Those who live in areas where dengue is endemic should exercise caution most especially during peak transmission in the rainy season (May-November). The dengue virus has four stereotypes: DENV1, DENV2, DENV3, and DENV4. If a mosquito is a carrier of either one of the viruses, then it is capable of transmitting it to people. There is currently no cure for dengue, but the symptoms can be managed within a week after diagnosis.
What causes dengue?
You can get dengue if you are bitten by infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes aegepti and the female Aedes albopictus. These mosquitoes usually feed during the daytime and breed well in areas with lots of still water like puddles, old tires, and water containers. Neighborhoods with no consistent garbage collection efforts are at risk of harboring more mosquitoes within their vicinities. It is important to know that dengue is only contracted from infected mosquitoes and it cannot be passed on from person to person.
The first warning sign to look out for is a high fever of 40°C or 104°F accompanied by a combination of any of the following:
- Muscle, bone, and joint pain
- Pain behind the eyes
A severe form of dengue called dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) lasts from 2- 7 days and may lead to life threatening complications if left untreated. Severe cases of dengue may manifest more severe symptoms including:
- Bleeding gums
- Severe abdominal pain
- Blood in stools, vomit, urine
- Difficulty in breathing
- Persistent vomiting
- Cold or clammy skin
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DHF can potentially cause your circulatory system to go into shock and can possibly lead to death. Immediate treatment is advised.
How to know if your child has dengue
Again, watch out for high fever that won’t seem to go away and can be accompanied by the different symptoms mentioned above. The first signs of dengue usually manifest about four to seven days after getting bitten, so you should backtrack your child’s activities during those dates. Local pediatrician Dr. Fatima Gimenez recommends that you take your child to your nearest hospital right away if you notice some symptoms of dengue. Although not all dengue patients need to be hospitalized, early detection can prevent the occurrence of shock and can even save your child’s life.