After Channel 3 actor Por fell into a coma from dengue fever, a public scare started about the illness, here are some facts about dengue fever. First of all, the fatality rate is very low. Only small minority of cases involve severe complications. This year there have been 107,500 Thais infected with the dengue virus. Of this number, 106 died, which accounts for around 0.1% of those affected. It is difficult to differentiate between dengue and other types of fever like influenza.
In the early stages of infection, dengue fever and flu have similar symptoms, but there are certain things to look for. Common cold and influenza usually involve coughing, a runny nose and sore throat, and these symptoms are not present in most cases of dengue. People infected with the dengue virus will develop a fever higher than if they had the common cold or flu, usually around 39-40C. They will also have muscle and bone pain.
A rash of red bumps might not help in differentiating because all virus-causing infections are likely to lead to a rash. A laboratory test is the best way to make sure if patients are infected with the virus. Dengue virus is not transmitted from person to person. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is responsible for transmitting the dengue virus to humans. People suffering from the disease should not be considered contagious. When a patient is infected with the dengue virus, the body produces immunity to fight against the sickness. But an overreaction of the body’s immune system is itself harmful, causing a low platelet count and subsequently internal bleeding, liver damage and blood vessel leakage in severe cases. Dengue shock is likely to occur as a result of severe dehydration and is associated with high mortality.
There is no need to panic because this is not to say that every dengue fever patient will suffer severe complications. If you develop a high fever and suspect that you might be infected, early treatment is advised. Taking paracetamol or painkillers prior to a doctor visit is dangerous. Aspirin and Ibuprofen reduce the function of platelets, which can lead to internal bleeding.
The virus attacks the liver so taking too much medication such as two paracetamol to cool down the body temperature could worsen physical conditions. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. If a clinical diagnosis is made early, specialists can provide treatments based on a patient’s condition. Treatments usually involve fluid replacement to prevent dehydration, as well as whole blood or platelet transfusion for patients who bleed internally. There are no vaccines available. Scientists and medical experts are in the process of developing a vaccine against dengue and it is expected to be available in the near future.
GET RID OF MOSQUITOES A change in the environment is the best vaccine. The primary preventive shield against dengue infection is to control the mosquito population. Make it a routine to remove stagnant water such as in plant saucers and water containers for pets, not just at home but also in schools, temples and public areas. Prevention is always better.