What is dengue?
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that mostly occurs in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The dengue virus is carried by different species of mosquitoes of the Aedes genus. The symptoms of this disease are mild and are difficult to distinguish from other viral infections in the initial period of infection. They present themselves between three to fourteen days of contracting the infection. The symptoms of dengue typically include a high fever, nausea, headache, joint and muscle pains, vomiting and skin rashes. While dengue is curable, the disease can be life threatening in rare situations when the symptoms are not identified and treated on time. This can lead to dengue haemorrhagic fever, reduced levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, bleeding or alarmingly low blood pressure levels causing dengue shock syndrome.
Reported Cases In India
India is in the grips of a massive dengue attack with over 23,000 reported cases this year. The South Indian states are the worst hit regions with 13,229 cases in Kerala followed by 4,174 cases in Tamil Nadu, 1945 cases in Karnataka and 606 cases in Andhra Pradesh. Other states that have been badly hit by this disease are Gujarat and West Bengal with 616 and 469 reported cases of dengue respectively.
This sudden surge in the spread of this virus called for a review meeting earlier this month for assessing the nation’s preparedness against the disease. While Kerala’s Health Minister, KK Shylaja, has termed this outbreak as unprecedented and accounted it to the onset of an early monsoon, leader of the State’s National Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, has claimed that this upsurge was due to the lack of proper sanitation programme preceding monsoon. 23 cases of deaths have been confirmed in Kerala, however, it is suspected that the real number has exceeded 160.
Dengvaxia is the only vaccine available across the world for curing dengue. However, India has not approved its marketing in the country. The vaccines we have available offer protection to people who have not yet been exposed to the disease.
How To Prevent Dengue
Since mosquitos carry the dengue virus, the best way to prevent dengue is to not frequent places that might be infested by the insect. Here are some other tips to prevent yourself from contracting the disease:
- Use mosquito repellents or sleep under a mosquito net.
- Keep the windows closed, especially in the evenings.
- Cover your body by wearing full sleeved shirts and full length pants.
- Do not allow your children to play in water puddles.
- Do not allow water to stagnate in your surroundings. Stagnant waters are breeding grounds for mosquitos and can create a health hazard. Try to keep your surroundings dry and clean.
- Ensure that you empty water from coolers, buckets, and other containers once a week.
- Use aerosol or liquid vaporiser during the day to prevent mosquito bites.
- Ensure that all drainage systems in your surroundings are well maintained and properly covered.
Identifying The Symptoms
Although it might be difficult to avoid the virus altogether, however, it might be beneficial if you learn to recognize the symptoms of dengue in the initial stages itself. If you have more than two of these symptoms, it is advisable to consult your doctor and get a test done immediately:
- Fever – very frequent, high
- Headache – frequent, intense
- Rashes – might appear between 5 – 7 days on contracting the virus
- Joint & muscle pain – intense
- Pain behind eyes – frequent, intense
- Vomiting & nausea – warning sign
- Diarrhoea – frequent
- Bleeding (skin rashes, gums, nose, ears) – frequent
Varying degrees of dengue require appropriate attention. Dengue fever leads to a considerable drop in the platelet count. If recognized and treated immediately, you can recover from dengue within two days to two weeks. These home remedies have proven to be very effective in curing dengue:
- Drinking juice of crushed Papaya leaves is the most effective remedy to cure dengue.
- Drinking guava juice mixed with honey has shown effective results in fighting the disease and quick recovery.
- The juice of Azadirachta Indica, commonly known as Neem in India, Aloe Vera juice and Barley grass juice have proven to be most effective in increasing the platelet count.
- Pomegranate juice strengthens the immune system and helps in faster recovery.
- Gooseberry juice is rich in vitamin C which is vital in curing dengue and must be consumed regularly when infected.
- A combination of cucumber, carrot and lemon juice also strengthens the immune system and helps in fighting off the after effects of the disease.
While home remedies are effective, it is always advisable to visit the doctor for treatment of dengue.
Dos & Don’ts When Infected
The National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the Directorate General of Health Services have laid down certain guidelines for things that should not be done while fighting the disease:
- Do not ingest Brufen or Aspirin for treating the fever
- Do not use antibiotics or steroids
- Intravenous therapy should be avoided unless there is an evidence of bleeding or haemorrhage
- Blood transfusion is a big no-no unless indicated otherwise
Resource Link: Dengue Symptoms