How Will You Explain Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Mild dengue fever causes high fever, rash, and muscle and joint pain. A severe form of dengue fever, also called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can cause severe bleeding, a sudden drop in blood pressure, shock and death.
Millions of cases of dengue infection occur worldwide each year. It is most common in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific islands, but the disease has been increasing rapidly in Latin America and the Caribbean. Researchers are working on dengue fever vaccines. For now the best prevention is to reduce mosquito habitat in areas where dengue fever is common.
Many people, especially children and teens, may experience no signs or symptoms during a mild case of dengue fever. When symptoms do occur, they usually begin four to 10 days after you are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Most people recover within a week or so. In some cases, symptoms worsen and can become life-threatening. Blood vessels often become damaged and leaky. And the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your bloodstream drops.
Dengue fever is caused by any one of four dengue viruses spread by mosquitoes that thrive in and near human lodgings. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream.
After you’ve recovered from dengue fever, you have immunity to the virus that infected you — but not to the other three dengue fever viruses. The risk of developing severe dengue fever, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, actually increases if you’re infected a second, third or fourth time.
Six dengue fever vaccines are in development, but not yet available. The vaccine that’s furthest in development is a three-dose vaccine for children. The results of a phase III trial were published in July 2014. This study showed that the vaccine appears to be safe, and it prevented dengue infections slightly more than half the time.
Those who had the vaccine but still became infected with dengue had a milder course of the disease than did those who weren’t vaccinated. Although the vaccine is not as effective as doctors would like, it is safe. The company that makes this vaccine hasn’t yet announced any plans to seek approval to market the vaccine.
So for now, if you’re living or traveling in an area where dengue fever is known to be, the best way to avoid dengue fever is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes that carry the disease.