Dengue fever is a disease caused by one of a number of viruses that are carried by mosquitoes. These mosquitoes then transmit the virus to humans.
Types of Dengue
There are four types of dengue viruses that cause dengue fever worldwide – Dengue 1, 2, 3 and 4. A person infected with one type of dengue will subsequently only be immune to that dengue type. They will not be immune to other types of dengue and will, in fact, be at risk of developing severe symptoms if they contract another type of dengue.
Illnesses caused by Dengue
The two principal illnesses that dengue causes are:
1. Dengue fever – an acute illness with fever, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain and rash
2. Dengue Haemorrhagic fever.
Dengue fever symptoms – Most common in older children and adults. Typical symptoms may include:
* sudden onset of fever (lasting three to seven days)
* intense headache (especially behind the eyes)
* muscle and joint pain (ankles, knees and elbows)
* unpleasant metallic taste in mouth, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain
* flushed skin on face and neck, fine skin rash as fever subsides
* rash on arms and legs, severe itching, peeling of skin and hair loss
* minor bleeding (nose or gums) and heavy menstrual periods
* extreme fatigue
Dengue haemorrhagic fever symptoms – A rare complication of dengue. More commonly seen in children aged under 15 years, but can occur in adults. Symptoms include:
* same signs as dengue fever
* 2-5 days after onset of fever, rapid deterioration and cardiovascular disease
* perhaps shock and sometimes death.
What is the treatment for Dengue and Dengue Hemorrhagic fever?
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.