Dengue fever is caused by one of four different but related viruses. It is spread by the bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and subtropic regions.
Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 - 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection. A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 to 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable.
A large majority of people who get infected with dengue have an excellent prognosis. However, they may feel very ill and weak during the first two weeks of the illness.
People with dengue, who have other underlying illnesses or immune depression as well, have good prognosis against the infection. They may develop complications during their sickness.
If a person has been infected by one dengue viral serovar, he/she may still be infected by the remaining three serovars in the future. If that happens, the second-time infection leaves the patient with an optimal outlook.
Patients with DHF (dengue hemorrhagic fever) or DSS (Dengue shock syndrome) may have a range of outcomes from good to poor, depending upon their condition and how quickly treatment has been provided. DHF and DSS have about 50% fatality rates if untreated but about a 3% rate if treated with supportive measures.
The overall fatality rate of all dengue fever infections is about 1%. One shouldn’t consider this rate to be low because worldwide, it means that approximately 500,000 to 1 million people die each year from dengue fever. Plus, the number of dengue cases is increasing each year, making it a cause of concern.
More severe forms of dengue fever, hemorrhagic and shock syndrome can give rise to complications. Dehydration, bleeding, low platelets, low blood pressure, bradycardia, liver damage, seizers, encephalitis, and death are some serious complications that can occur to a dengue patient. These complications however are quite infrequent.
A supportive or home care for dengue includes good oral hydration, and pain control with medications. It generally is adequate treatment for most people. However, if a patient has developed dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome home care isn’t effective in his/her case. Medical emergencies are needed depending on the patient’s condition.
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