Dengue fever is viral illness which spreads by the bite of an infected mosquito. Some patients can develop dengue hemorrhagic fever a severe, often fatal complication of dengue infection. Read to know the risk factors for dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Living or travelling to tropical areas: Living in areas where dengue infection is rampant (such as tropical Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean) increases your risk of getting dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Prior infection with a dengue fever virus: There are four types of dengue virus (DENV-1 to DENV-4). One type of dengue virus can infect a person only once in his lifetime as the person develops lifelong protective immunity against that particular type of infecting virus (homotypic immunity). A second infection with any type of dengue virus (e.g. DEN-2 followed by DEN-3) can cause severe and even fatal dengue infection such as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome due to the presence of antibodies to the virus in your blood from a previous infection. In most infections, antibodies in the body from a previous infection usually help protect you. But in dengue fever it leads to damage of the blood vessels and platelets and actually increases your risk of dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Other factors: Risk of DHF is higher in children younger than 12 years of age, females, and the Caucasian race. Higher density of Aedes mosquito, climate favouring mosquito breeding (hot and humid climate), and the presence of all the four serotypes of the dengue virus in a geographic area, poor sanitation and water pooling in and around households, population density and large movement of people towards urban areas also increase the risk of dengue fever and DHF.
Currently there is no specific treatment for dengue. Hence prevention is considered important in the control of dengue fever. Focus should be on prevention centres on avoiding mosquito bites and controlling and eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
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