Monday, November 8, 2010
WHAT IS DENGUE FEVER?
Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) fever is a mosquito transmitted virus that typically, but not always strikes people with low levels of immunity. Dengue is fatal in less than 1% of cases with children under 10 the most at risk. A typical dose of Dengue lasts around two weeks with most sufferers experiencing severe muscle and joint pain, fever and body rashes. Unlike Malaria, patients make a full recovery and will be immune to that strain of dengue for the rest of their lives. Another form of the virus known as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever can lead to Dengue Shock Syndrome where the body’s circulatory system basically shuts down such cases are thankfully very rare. Dengue is not contagious, so it is not spread form person to person there has to be a mosquito to person to mosquito to another person pathway.
WHAT AREAS ARE AT RISK?
Over 50 million cases of Dengue Fever occur every year with most canted around South East Asia, with Indonesia and The Philippines most at risk. Central America and The Caribbean have experienced ongoing outbreaks of the virus since 2006. From the map below though, we can see that all areas in the tropics and sub tropics that are home to the Aedes Aegyptis mosquito (which includes Northern Australia) are potentially at risk from an outbreak of Dengue fever during rainy seasons.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The incubation period for Dengue is around 5-8 days, so many people may not experience these until they return home from their trip. Typical symptoms at that time include chills, headaches, intense joint pain and sweating. As the virus progresses, a reddish rash spreads across the body. In severe cases, nosebleeds, bleeding gums and blood in your bowel motions can point to the much more severe hemorrhagic version of the virus seek urgent medical attention if this occurs.
There is no vaccine at present for Dengue and no real antibiotic to treat the effects. The best treatment is to relive the symptoms with rest, fluid intake and plenty of water. Medical attention should be sought immediately as treatment via a saline drip may be necessary. Avoid taking any medication or drugs including alcohol until you have received medical advice such chemicals can worsen hemorrhagic complications unexpectedly. Typically the virus will run its course in around two weeks with victims making an eventual 100% recovery. Prevention is the key here avoid areas of stagnant fresh water in tropical areas especially during the rainy season. If it’s unavoidable, consider long pants and sleeves.