Dengue- Treatment And Prevention
An estimated 390 dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness.
Most cases occur in tropical areas of the world, with the greatest risk occurring in:
- The Indian subcontinent
- Southeast Asia
- Southern China
- The Pacific Islands
- The Caribbean (except Cuba and the Cayman Islands)
- Central and South America (except Chile, Paraguay, and Argentina)
Treatments for dengue fever
Because dengue is a virus there is no specific treatment or cure, however there are things the patient or the doctor can do to help, depending on the severity of the disease.
For milder forms of dengue fever the treatment methods are:
- Prevent dehydration – high fever and vomiting can dehydrate the body. Make sure you drink clean (ideally bottled) water rather than tap water. Rehydration salts can also help replace fluids and minerals.
- Painkillers – this can help lower fever and ease pain. As some NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen can increase the risk of internal bleeding, patients are advised to use Tylenol (paracetamol) instead.
The following treatment options are designed for the more severe forms of dengue fever:
- Intravenous fluid supplementation (IV drip) – in some harsher cases of dengue the patient is unable to take fluids orally (via the mouth) and will need to receive an IV drip.
- Bloood transfusion – a blood transfusion may be recommended for patients with severe dehydration.
- Hospital care – it is important that you be treated by medical professionals, this way you can be properly monitored (e.g. fluid levels, blood pressure) in case your symptoms worsen. If the patient is cared for by physicians and nurses experienced with the effects and complications of hemorrhagic fever, lives can be saved.
Prevention of dengue fever
At present there is no dengue vaccine; one is currently in development. Even so, developing a vaccine to protect against four closely related viruses that can cause the disease will not be easy.
The best method of prevention is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. If you live or travel to an area where dengue fever exists, there a number of ways to avoid being bitten and we’ll go through those below.
To protect yourself:
- Stay away from heavily populated residential areas, if possible.
- Use mosquito repellents, even indoors.
- When outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
- When indoors, use air conditioning if available.
- Make sure window and door screens are secure and free of holes. If sleeping areas are not screened or air conditioned, use mosquito nets.
- If you have symptoms of dengue, speak to your doctor.
To reduce the mosquito population, get rid of places where mosquitoes can breed. These include old tires, cans, or flower pots that collect rain. Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pets’ water dishes.
If someone in your home gets dengue fever, be especially vigilant about efforts to protect yourself and other family members from mosquitoes. Mosquitoes that bite the infected family member could spread the infection to others in your home.