It is important to first discuss the difference between dengue fever and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.
Although both diseases which are caused by the dengue virus exhibit the same initial symptoms, Dengue Fever is a less threatening condition as compared to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. The latter is a rather more severe condition that may lead to various complications and in some cases even death.
Dengue fever and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever are categorized as a viral disease. It is prevalent in tropical areas and sub-tropical places. The disease is caused by contracting the dengue virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is sometimes referred to as breakbone fever due to the severe joint and muscle pains it causes.
Each year, there is an estimated 100 million new cases of dengue fever around the world as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). Only a few of these cases develop into full blown Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever.
The number of reported cases for Dengue Fever are higher during the rainy season, but the disease can occur at any time of the year. Measures and precautions should be taken to prevent the disease.
Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
Here are a few important things to know about Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever:
1. The dengue virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and cannot be transmitted from human-to-human
Mosquitoes transmit the dengue virus. When a mosquito bites a dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever infected person, the mosquito becomes the host of the virus that later transmits the virus to the next person it bites.
Although there are very few isolated cases of human-to-human transfer of the virus, such as in blood transfusion, the number is too little to be considered significant.
On a general perspective, a person infected with dengue hemorrhagic virus cannot directly transfer the disease to another human. The dengue virus is a microscopic single strain virus that needs a host – the mosquito – in order to replicate.
2. Not all species of mosquitoes can carry the dengue virus
There are over 3.500 species of mosquitoes throughout the world, but not all mosquitoes can carry the dengue virus. Only two species, proven so far, can serve as a host to the virus in order to transmit the virus to humans, these species are: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is a tiny dark mosquito with white lines on its legs and white-tipped palps. The Aedes albopictus mosquito also referred to as tiger mosquito is a small mosquito with white and black stripes on its legs and body. It is considered as an invasive species. Both species thrive in places where there are human environments.
Although dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever can be more likely contracted outdoors, certain types of mosquitoes, more specifically the Aedes aegypti specie can also thrive indoors.
3. Be wary of flu-like symptoms accompanied by extreme joint and muscle pain and bleeding
Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever shows its symptoms in almost flu-like symptoms. It is accompanied by extreme pain of the joints and muscles accompanied by severe fever.
Skin rashes, bleeding often in gums and under the skin, and extreme drop in blood pressure are symptoms that distinguishes dengue hemorrhagic fever from dengue fever or the flu. Dengue fever symptoms are also often compared to symptoms caused by scarlet fever and yellow fever.
Other symptoms may include severe headaches, nausea, swelling of the glands, and vomiting.
There is a four to ten day incubation period of the virus within the human body from the day of the mosquito bite where symptoms usually transpire within two to seven days. It is best to consult with a physician as early as possible when experiencing these symptoms for early detection and to avoid complications.
4. What are the causes of dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever?
As mentioned previously, dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever is caused by the dengue virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes to humans.
There are actually four types of dengue viruses, each virus labelled DENV 1, DENV 2, DENV 3, and DENV 4 accordingly. All four viruses are often referred to as serotypes for having several genetic variations with each having different interactions with the human body but causing the same symptoms and resulting to the same disease. Recent studies have revealed a fifth serotype labelled as DENV 5.
5. Is there a vaccine for dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever?
There are so far no vaccines that are designed to prevent dengue fever, there are however, ongoing studies that aim to develop a vaccine for the dengue virus.
The discovery of the fifth serotype DENV 5 though have cause various complications in developing the vaccine.
6. What clinical or laboratory tests often are administered to detect dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever?
A complete blood test (CBC) is often requested for patients who are experiencing symptoms of dengue fever. When accompanied with severe headaches, urine cultures may also be requested by the physician. When bleeding occurs, a coagulation test is often administered.
Other tests may include metabolic panel tests to check on the status of the liver and kidney. Immunoglobin M-base tests like ELISA or MAC-ELISA may also be conducted for dengue virus detection.
In some cases, a spinal tap may be administered to help differentiate the virus from other diseases.
7. Patient’s early detection, recovery period, and possible complications
Most of the symptoms of dengue fever resembles that of fever and flu and sometimes may be even difficult to diagnose. The key to early detection of the disease is by consulting with a qualified physician to determine or distinguish the disease from other ailments.
Patients with dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever are advised to follow treatment as prescribed by a doctor.
It usually takes fourteen days to recover from the disease. Severe cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever may cause various complications pertaining to the liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart.
8. Are There Risk Factors after Recovery from the Disease?
A patient with dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever would have a compromised immune system.
Precautions must be taken to avoid complications. Continuous treatment as prescribed is necessary and substantial intake of healthy foods and fluids required to regain fitness.
9. Patients who recovered from the Disease
Patients who have successfully recovered from dengue fever or dengue hemorrhagic fever may be immune to the disease of the same serotype for a month or two but not with the other virus serotypes.
The risk for the potential of having a more severe case and complication becomes higher once the disease is contracted the second time.
10. Are there ways to prevent dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever?
Dengue virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Avoiding places with mosquito infestation can help increase dengue fever prevention.
Wear pants and shirts with sleeves when going outdoors to deter mosquito bites. It also helps to wear insect repellent during daytime. Rid of stagnant water within your surroundings to prevent mosquito infestation.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe condition caused by the dengue virus. It is curable and can be prevented. Early detection of the disease through careful monitoring of prevalent symptoms plus consistent medical treatment can aid in fast recovery and avoidance of further complications. Prevention can be done by avoiding possible mosquito bites and keeping the environment clean and mosquito free.
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