FAST FACTS: Dengue Fever And Symptoms

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The Center for Disease Control estimates that one-third of the world’s population is at risk for dengue infection. The CDC said it’s a leading cause of illness and death in the tropics and subtropics.Each year, the mosquito-borne virus infects as many as 100 million people. There are no vaccines to protect against the infection and the only protective measure is to avoid mosquito bites.

If the infection is caught early on, then there is treatment that can reduce the risk of developing severe disease.

Dengue rarely occurs in the United States, although it is endemic in Puerto Rico, and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America and Southeast Asia; periodic outbreaks occur in Samoa and Guam.

Dengue fever is characterized by high fevers with at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Severe eye pain (behind eyes)
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle and/or bone pain
  • Rash
  • Mild bleeding manifestation (e.g., nose or gum bleed, petechiae, or easy bruising)
  • Low white cell count
  • Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults.
  • Watch for warning signs as temperature declines 3 to 7 days after symptoms began.
  • People with any of these symptoms are urged to go to an emergency room or the closest health care provider:
  • Severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting
  • Red spots or patches on the skin
  • Bleeding from nose or gums
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black, tarry stools (feces, excrement)
  • Drowsiness or irritability
  • Pale, cold, or clammy skin
  • Difficulty breathing

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is characterized by a fever that lasts from 2 to 7 days, with general signs and symptoms consistent with dengue fever. When the fever declines, warning signs may develop. This marks the beginning of a 24 to 48 hour period when the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) become excessively permeable (“leaky”), allowing the fluid component to escape from the blood vessels into the peritoneum (causing ascites) and pleural cavity (leading to pleural effusions). This may lead to failure of the circulatory system and shock, and possibly death without prompt, appropriate treatment. In addition, the patient with DHF has a low platelet count and hemorrhagic manifestations, tendency to bruise easily or have other types of skin hemorrhages, bleeding nose or gums, and possibly internal bleeding.

Treatment

There is no specific medication for treatment of a dengue infection. Persons who think they have dengue should use analgesics (pain relievers) with acetaminophen and avoid those containing ibuprofen, Naproxen, aspirin or aspirin containing drugs. They should also rest, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, avoid mosquito bites while febrile and consult a physician.

As with dengue, there is no specific medication for DHF. If a clinical diagnosis is made early, a health care provider can effectively treat DHF using fluid replacement therapy. Adequately management of DHF generally requires hospitalization.

SOURCE: Center for Disease Control

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