Dengue fever is an acute viral disease that in some cases causes death in humans. As a rule, residents of tropical countries become infected with this disease, but sometimes it is also diagnosed in citizens of relatively cold countries. Recently, this disease was discovered in residents of Russia, and a one-year-old child is among the infected. They contracted dengue fever while on holiday in Thailand, a warm and humid country where the virus spreads particularly frequently. The topic of Dengue fever is now more relevant than ever, so let’s find out how it is transmitted, what symptoms are typical for it, whether it can be cured and why not all tourists, but only some, get infected with it.
Интересный факт: название лихорадки Денге берет начало со словосочетания «Ka-dinga pepo», которое с языка суахили переводится как «судорожный припадок». Также это заболевание известно как «костоломная лихорадка», «лихорадка жирафов» и «финиковая болезнь».
How is dengue fever transmitted?
According to historical documents, people first officially recorded an outbreak of dengue fever in 1779. But in those days, doctors did not yet understand how it spreads – this became known only in the 20th century.
The causative agents of the disease are arboviruses of the genus Flavivirus. Mostly their carriers are insects – as a rule, people become infected with the Dengue virus through the bites of yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti). These insects actively breed in warm and humid places, especially in clay vessels and concrete water tanks. In today’s world, discarded plastic food containers are increasingly becoming breeding grounds.
The process of transmission of the Dengue virus is as follows. Mosquitoes sit on the body of an infected person or animal, suck its blood and thereby also become infected with the virus. After that, the insect goes in search of another victim to receive blood, and during the bite it releases viruses into the next organism. This process occurs constantly, therefore, in tropical countries, it is necessary to try by all means to avoid blood-sucking insects.
Currently, Dengue brings a lot of trouble in South and Southeast Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. Every year, 50 million people are infected with the virus, sometimes including Russian tourists.
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Symptoms of Dengue Fever
After the bite of an infected mosquito and the first symptoms of the disease, it can take from 3 to 14 days. If a person is a tourist and becomes infected with the virus for the first time, he begins classic dengue fever. However, when re-infected with different strains, a person may suffer from hemorrhagic form of the disease – usually it affects the indigenous inhabitants of tropical countries. The classic form is relatively easy to treat, while the hemorrhagic form is so severe that it sometimes causes death.
Symptoms of classic dengue fever:
- itchy rash (first occurs on the trunk, and then spreads to the limbs);
- fever up to 40 degrees and chills;
- pain in the bones, joints and muscles (especially the spine suffers);
- redness of the throat, face and eyes;
Symptoms of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever:
- an increase in body temperature up to 40 degrees;
- enlargement of the liver and lymph nodes;
- rash with hemorrhages on the skin;
- gastrointestinal bleeding;
- vomiting with blood;
- lowering blood pressure;
- pallor and blueness of the skin.
With complications of Dengue fever, toxic shock, encephalitis, meningitis, psychosis, pneumonia, otitis media, and other life-threatening conditions may occur.
It is important to note that the symptoms of dengue fever can be confused with signs of other dangerous diseases that are transmitted through insect bites. For example, the disease is very similar to malaria, chikungunya, Zika, and so on. Only an infectious disease doctor can diagnose the disease, based on blood tests and a PCR test.
Интересный факт: у некоторых людей есть мутация, которая защищает их от малярии. Подробнее о ней читайте в нашей подборке генетических мутаций, которые могут сделать человека «суперменом».
Dengue fever treatment
If a person has Dengue fever, he is urgently hospitalized. If we are talking about the classic form of the disease, the patient is given painkillers, vitamins C, K, B and anti-allergy drugs. In this case, a person must observe strict bed rest and drink more than 2 liters of fluid per day. It is important to note that it is forbidden to drink only water – in addition to it, it is necessary to drink freshly squeezed juices and milk. This is necessary to prevent a shift in the electrolyte balance.
With the hemorrhagic form of Dengue fever, treatment is more serious. A person is put on a drip with various solutions or blood plasma, oxygen therapy is given, and drugs are given to increase blood clotting to stop bleeding. During illness, it is strictly forbidden to use aspirin, ibuprofen and other drugs that disrupt blood clotting.
Scientists are aware of the existence of 5 serotypes of the Dengue virus. Infection with the disease gives immunity only to the serotype that caused the disease – it lasts only about 2 years.
A vaccine against dengue virus exists and is available in many countries. However, it is recommended only for those who have already been ill – as mentioned above, with repeated infection, there is a high probability of developing a particularly dangerous hemorrhagic form of the disease.
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How to protect yourself from the Dengue virus
The simplest and most effective way to prevent dengue fever is to minimize exposure to infected mosquitoes. The best way to deal with this is repellents – chemicals that repel insects. It is also recommended to wear clean and dense clothes of a light shade, and put insect screens on the windows. In addition, open containers of water, in which mosquitoes breed, should be avoided.
After returning home from tropical countries where yellow fever mosquitoes are found, you need to carefully monitor your health. With an increase in body temperature and the appearance of other alarming symptoms, you should immediately consult a doctor.
Most tourists manage to stay healthy by always following the prevention methods mentioned above.
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Dengue fever in Russia
In February 2023, dengue fever was detected in two residents of Krasnoyarsk who were on vacation in Phuket and Pattaya. After that, in March, the disease was discovered in two more adults and a one-year-old child. It is believed that they contracted the disease due to non-compliance with safety rules: they did not have mosquito repellent and closed clothing.
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Finally, it is worth emphasizing once again that dengue fever affects only people who live or have flown to especially warm and humid regions of our planet. People who live in relatively cold places don’t have much to worry about.