With dengue spreading all around the globe and infecting people of all ages, it is important for all of us to be aware and know about the symptoms of this disease and ways in which we can protect ourselves. When it comes to the diseases caused by insect butes, mosquitos are not the only ones to be blamed as dengue and malaria are not the only deadly diseases caused due to an insect bite. Scrub typhus is another addition to this list which can be equally dangerous and cause some serious complications. Let us take a deep dive into this article and understand the difference between dengue and scrub typhus along with their symptoms, causes, treatment options and some prevention tips with Dr. Sanjay Gogia, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a mosquito borne illness that is mosquito borne illness that is caused due to any of the four closely related dengue viruses. This disease is more common in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The virus is further transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito which is infected by the dengue virus. This mosquito can be recognised by the white patchy spots it has on its legs and back. The mosquito gets infected after biting and sucking the blood of a person who has already been infected by the virus and hence the virus can only be spread via mosquitoes and not through general contact.
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In the case of mild dengue a person might get high fever and would have some flu like symptoms, whereas in the case of severe dengue dengue hemorrhagic fever, a person might experience a sudden drop in blood pressure, serious bleeding and even death.
Causes of Dengue
Caused due to any one of the four dengue viruses DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4, dengue fever is spread through mosquito bites. It is a common myth between people that the disease can be spread by being around an infected person, which is totally false.
Not just this but the transmission of the disease causing virus can only take place via Aedes mosquito. This mosquito is commonly found within and around human lodgings. When this mosquito bites a person who has been suffering through the disease and has the virus in its blood stream, it gets inside the mosquitos body. While sucking human blood when the mosquito bierce through the skin it injects some of its saliva inside our body. As the saliva of a virus carrying mosquito gets injected inside a person’s and eventually gets into the bloodstream and causes infection.
Symptoms of dengue
As now we know all about what dengue fever is and how it is caused, let us take a closer look at what are the common symptoms of this viral disease as told by Dr. Gogia.
In the initial stage the symptoms that can be observed in a person infected by dengue virus are-
- High fever
- Body Pain
- Body ache at the initial stage
If not treated at time the condition might get accelerated and have some severe symptoms like-
- Abdominal distention
- Breathing problems
It is better to know the symptoms of a disease and get the same treatment at the earliest possible in order to avoid complications. As we have understood about the signs and symptoms of dengue fever, let us try to understand what are the commonly available treatment options that can be used to treat this disease as told by Dr. Gogia-
- Fluid intake- The most important step that plays a crucial role in the treatment of dengue is fluid intake. For dengue patients it is very important to maintain an appropriate fluid balance in the body.
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Most of the treatments that are used to cure dengue fever are symptomatic like-
- High fever- If a patient has high fever then paracetamol is given
- Vomiting- In a case where the patient has been vomiting a lot then they are given some drugs in order to stop vomiting.
- Fall in platelet levels- If some evidence of platelets fall is found in a patient then platelet transmissions are provided as per the indication
What is Scrub Typhus?
Caused due to a bacteria called orientia tsutsugamushi, Scrub typhus or bush typhus is a bacterial disease spread amongst people due to an infected larval mite. These larval mites are a type of invertebrate animals known as arthropodes. As these bacteria carrying arthropodes bite someone, they transmit the bacteria from their body to that person’s and causes scrub typhus. Once this bacteria enters the bloodstream, it keeps on multiplying and growing itself inside the human body. Moreover scratching the affected itchy site can make it even worse. As scratching the area opens the skin, it provides a greater access to the bacteria to enter your bloodstream.
Causes of Scrub Typhus
Just like dengue, scrub typhus can not be spreaded through human contact and by being around an infected person. There are different types of typhus and which one do you get infected by depends upon the insect that bit you. Scrub typhus is a type of typhus infection caused due to orientia tsutsugamushi bacteria and transmitted via the bite of chiggers/ larval mites. These mites when suck blood from the body of an infected human or rodent become a carrier of the disease causing bacteria. This bacteria is then transmitted to a healthy person’s body via mite bite.
Symptoms of Scrub Typhus
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Knowing symptoms of a disease is an important aspect which aids treatment. If you are aware about the early signs and symptoms of the disease that you are going through, it becomes easier to seek medical advice on time. Getting treated at an early stage can prevent the disease from becoming fatal and more seve due to which one can avoid serious complications. Here are some of the most common symptoms of Scrub Typhus as explained by Dr. Gogoi-
- Body ache
- Low fever
If not treated at time the scrub typhus can become more severe which can be understood by-
- Prominent rashes with bigger size
- Rashes present all over the body
After knowing all about what scrub typhus is, its causes and the symptoms of this disease let us understand the common treatment options that are available to cure this disease. Dr. Gogia explains that “ The classical treatment used for treating scrub typhus is doxycycline. If the patient is pregnant or has some other form of counter indication to doxycycline, then there are some other antibiotics available that can be used for the treatment."
As said “Prevention is better than cure” and hence it is better to safeguard yourself from these diseases and prevent it rather than getting them treated and getting into the complications of it. Here are a few preventive measures suggested by Dr. Sanjay Gogia, that you can follow to safeguard yourself from these diseases. As dengue is a mosquito borne disease and scrub typhus is transmitted by a small insect which is usually found in marshy and grassy land.
- In order to prevent being bitten by these insects it is recommended that-
- One should wear full coverage long sleeved clothes when out doors (especially in rainy season)
- As both these disease causing insects bite in the daytime so proper clothing can provide some amount of protection from these.
- Even mosquito and insect repellents work to an extent to repel these disease causing insects.
With Inputs From Dr. Sanjay Gogia, Director, Internal Medicine, Fortis HospitalShalimar Bagh, New Delhi
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