Information on Dengue

What is Dengue?

Dengue is a viral infection caused by dengue virus (DENV) that spreads to people from bite of mosquitoes. It is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and according to World Health Organization (WHO), around half of the world’s population is now at risk of dengue.

  • This type of mosquito is a daytime feeder, meaning they are most likely to bite people early in the morning and in the early evening, just before it gets dark.

How is dengue transmitted?

  • Mosquito bite: The dengue virus is spread to humans when they are bitten by infected female mosquitoes, mainly the Aedes aegypti but there are other types that can spread it too.
  • Human-to-mosquito: Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person. However, mosquitoes acquire the virus by biting an infected individual, and subsequently, they can transmit the virus to other people through subsequent bites. Infected individuals may be symptomatic (people who have symptoms of dengue) and asymptomatic (people who don't have symptoms).
  • From pregnant mother to her baby: Although the primary mode of transmission of the dengue virus involves mosquitoes, there is a possibility that a mother already infected with dengue can pass it to her foetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth (maternal transmission). When a pregnant mother has dengue, her baby may be born too early (pre-term birth) or be underweight at birth (low birthweight).

Can a lactating mother with dengue breastfeed?

Yes, a lactating mother with dengue can breastfeed her child. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mothers should continue breastfeeding, even if they have dengue. The dengue virus is not transmitted through breast milk, so it is safe for the baby to breastfeed. Breast milk provides important nutrients and immune factors that can help protect the child's health, especially during an illness like dengue.

What are the common symptoms of Dengue?

Symptoms usually occur after 4-10 days after infection and typically last 2-7 days.

  • High fever (40OC/ 104OF)
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Aches and pains (eye pain, typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint, or bone pain)
  • Swollen glands.

How to take care of patients with mild dengue symptoms at home?

There has been a WHO approved vaccine against dengue for use in children from the age 9 through 16, who have a previous history of laboratory-confirmed dengue infection.

Treatment for patients with mild dengue mainly aims at relieving the pain and other symptoms.

  • Seek medical advice: If you experience a fever or any symptoms of dengue, it is recommended to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider.
  • Bed rest: Take rest as much as possible.
  • Prevent dehydration: Drink plenty of fluids and keep an eye out for symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration happens when the body loses too much fluid due to fever, vomiting, or not drinking enough fluids.
  • Control high fever: To control the pain caused by dengue, use acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol).
  • Take paracetamol and avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin.

What are the signs of dehydration?

  • Feeling excessively thirst, dry and sticky mouth and lips
  • Dry skin which stays as tent when pinched
  • Reduced urine output and darker urine
  • Feeling of fatigue, weakness, dizziness and irritable
  • Headache
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Sunken eyes

What is severe dengue?

Severe dengue is when the symptoms of dengue get worse and can be life threatening. Individuals who are infected for the second time are at greater risk of severe dengue. If one has severe dengue, seek medical help right away.

What are the symptoms of severe dengue?

The symptoms of severe dengue usually start appearing within 24-48 hours after the first sign of illness. Temperature will decrease but it does not necessarily indicate that the person is recovering. Symptoms include:

  • Blood in urine, stools or vomit
  • Vomiting at least 3 times in 24 hours
  • Fatigue, restlessness or irritable
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bleeding gums or nose
  • Pale and cold skin

When symptoms of severe dengue develop, the person should be taken to the emergency room or to the nearest health care provider.