Chennai saw 543 registered cases of dengue till October, the highest across all districts in Tamil Nadu in this calendar year. The civic body has promised to undertake more preventive measures such as fumigation and conduct awareness drives to educate citizens on dos and don’ts, to arrest the spread of dengue. Citizens in their individual capacity can be prepared to prevent the spread of the disease by undertaking certain preemptive measures.
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Here are a few key pointers from the Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital on how dengue spreads, the symptoms, course of treatment and what you can do to avoid it.
What is Dengue and how does it spread?
Dengue fever is an incapacitating disease which can have serious complications. It is caused by the dengue virus and is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito infected with the virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites people who have the dengue virus in their blood.
Dengue does not spread directly from one person to another (it is non-contagious).
What is the course of the fever?
♦ About 5 to 8 days after the bite, the afflicted individual has high fever, headache, weakness, muscle pain and rash. The fever usually lasts 4–7 days.
♦ Most patients recover spontaneously without any medical assistance. More serious illness requires hospital admission. There is no specific medicine for Dengue and treatment is supportive.
♦ About 10% can have complications and recover after appropriate management
♦ Rarely, patients can die, especially if treatment is delayed
What are the most common symptoms?
Symptoms usually begin 4-6 days after infection and last for up to 10 days:
♦ Sudden, high fever
♦ Severe headache
♦ Pain behind the eyes
♦ Severe joint and muscle pain
♦ Nausea and vomiting
♦ Skin rash, which appears a few days after the fever
♦ Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)
What can individuals do to prevent dengue?
There is no vaccine to prevent dengue fever. The best way to prevent it is to prevent mosquito bites.
♦ Wear full shirts and long pants, whenever possible
♦ Use mosquito repellents, even indoors. Apply mosquito repellents to exposed areas before and after stepping out – the effects last only about 4 hours.
♦ Make sure windows and door screens are secure and free of holes. Use mosquito nets.
♦ Old tires, cans, pots etc collect rain water and are excellent breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Get rid of these.
♦ Remember: mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the infection to others in your home.
What are the warning signs to watch out for?
Watch for warning signs, especially when the fever subsides. This may be about 3 to 7 days into the illness. Go to a hospital immediately if any of these warning signs appear:
♦ Severe abdominal pain
♦ Persistent vomiting
♦ Red spots or patches on the skin
♦ Bleeding from the nose or gums
♦ Vomiting blood
♦ Black, tarry stools
♦ Drowsiness or irritability
♦ Pale, cold, or clammy skin
♦ Difficulty in breathing
Some dos and dont’s
♦ Seek medical help if you, or a family member, have symptoms or warning signs.
♦ If needed, give only Paracetamol for fever. Do not give Aspirin or Ibuprofen as these may cause bleeding.
♦ Do not self medicate with antibiotics. Antibiotics are not effective against the virus.
♦ Timely treatment with intravenous fluids can prevent complications or lessen its severity. Blood products (blood or platelet transfusions) are not required, except in patients admitted to Intensive Care.[The above has been issued as an advisory in public interest by the Kanchi Kamakoti CHILDS Trust Hospital and has been shared here with minimal edits.]