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Dengue: By the numbers
By Thiyagarajan Velayutham, Founder, IHHC| November 4th, 2017
Not so long ago, we had done a post on the prevention, treatment and cure for dengue. And, while these haven’t changed and bear repeating, the numbers have changed. Drastically and for the worse. Dengue has spread like wildfire through our sub-continent and the numbers are appalling. Given here are the dengue numbers, for the worst affected states this year, as of 29th October 2017.
Andhra Pradesh 3177
Madhya Pradesh 1141
Tamil Nadu 6086
Uttar Pradesh 2458
West Bengal 10, 697
(Statistics from the National Vector Bourne Disease Control Programme, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare)
According to the Indian Express, (1.08.2017):
“Dengue cases in India up by 11,832 over last year’
The publication goes on to say that,"According to the Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), till July 30, 2016, the total dengue cases in the country were 16,870 while for the same period in 2017 they numbered 28,702. Last one week alone saw 2,536 cases with 10 deaths.”
So, what causes dengue?
Medical records have shown that dengue has been around since 1779. However, information on the transmission, and cause, of the disease were discovered only in the 20th century. The dengue virus is spread mainly by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. These are known to bite early in the morning and late at night. Infection can be transmitted by just one bite!
Dealing with dengue fever
When a person falls ill from dengue, it’s initially difficult to make a precise diagnosis. The symptoms mirror those of other illnesses, and can be mistaken for flu or other viral infections. Unless a blood test is done, the doctor can’t prescribe a treatment regime. Only when the blood test reveals a falling platelet count can the doctor treat the patient for dengue fever.
These usually show up four to six days after the infection has set in, and may last for up to 10 days. These could include sudden onset of high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, intense fatigue, nausea and vomiting, skin rash – two to five days after the onset of fever, mild bleeding from the nose or gums and easy bruising of the skin.
But serious problems can develop with dengue including Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. This condition, known a Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS), could lead to massive internal bleeding, shock and, ultimately, death. It is a rare complication, characterized by:
- High fever
- Damage to the lymph nodes and blood vessels
- Bleeding from the nose and gums
- Enlarged liver
- Failure of the circulatory system
The time taken for dengue to run its course, in most people, involves an incubation period of 10 -14 days, followed by a week of acute symptoms, and then a few days for recovery. Generally, symptoms don’t extend beyond two weeks for a typical dengue infection.
There is no vaccine or other specific medication to prevent dengue fever. The best way to prevent dengue is to avoid bites by infected mosquitoes. To protect yourself:
- Stay away from heavily populated residential areas, if possible
- Use mosquito repellents, indoors and out
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks, if the weather allows
- Use air conditioning, if possible and affordable
- Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes
- If sleeping areas are not screened or air conditioned, use mosquito nets
- If you have symptoms of dengue, see your doctor
If someone in your family gets dengue fever, be careful about protecting yourself and other family members from mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the infection to others in your family.
There is no precise medication or treatment for dengue. Generally, doctors prescribe pain relievers with acetaminophen – avoid medicines with aspirin (as this is a blood thinner) and could worsen the bleeding. They also recommend plenty of rest and fluids. Should the patient feel worse in the first 24 hours (after the fever goes down,) then a trip to the hospital is a must to check for complications.