Disease: Dengue Fever

    Dengue fever facts

    • Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes.
    • Symptoms include as severe joint and muscle pain, swollen lymph nodes, headache, fever, exhaustion, and rash. The presence of fever, rash, and headache (the "dengue triad") is characteristic of dengue fever.
    • Dengue is prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics.
    • Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue fever, the treatment is directed toward relief of the symptoms (symptomatic treatment).
    • The acute phase of the illness with fever and myalgias lasts about one to two weeks.
    • Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).
    • The prevention of dengue fever requires control or eradication of the mosquitoes carrying the virus that causes dengue.
    • There is currently no vaccine for dengue fever.

    What is dengue fever?

    Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), and rash. The presence of fever, rash, and headache (the "dengue triad") is particularly characteristic of dengue. Other signs of dengue fever include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles.

    Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) can affect anyone but tends to be more severe in people with compromised immune systems. Because it is caused by one of five serotypes of virus, it is possible to get dengue fever multiple times. However, an attack of dengue produces immunity for a lifetime to that particular viral serotype to which the patient was exposed.

    Dengue goes by other names, including "breakbone" or "dandy fever." Victims of dengue often have contortions due to the intense joint and muscle pain, hence the name breakbone fever. Slaves in the West Indies who contracted dengue were said to have dandy fever because of their postures and gait.

    Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. Petechiae (small red or purple splotches or blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising are all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.

    What geographic areas are at high risk for contracting dengue fever?

    Dengue is prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics. Outbreaks have occurred recently in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, and Central America. Cases have also been imported via tourists returning from areas with widespread dengue, including Tahiti, Singapore, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, the West Indies, India, and the Middle East (similar in distribution to the areas of the world that harbor malaria and yellow fever). Dengue is now the leading cause of acute febrile illness in U.S. travelers returning from the Caribbean, South America, and Asia.

    Thailand reported the worst dengue outbreak in 20 years, with 126 deaths and 135,344 people infected with the virus, as of October 2013.

    In 2011, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela reported a large number of dengue cases. Paraguay reported a dengue fever outbreak in 2011, the worst since 2007. Hospitals were overcrowded, and patients had elective surgeries canceled due to the outbreak.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 1946 to 1980, no cases of dengue acquired in the continental United States were reported. Since 1980, a few locally acquired U.S. cases have been confirmed along the Texas-Mexico border, temporally associated with large outbreaks in neighboring Mexican cities.

    A 2009 outbreak of dengue fever in Key West, Fla., involved three patients who did not travel outside of the U.S. contracted the virus. Subsequent testing of the population of Key West has shown that up to 5% of the people living in the area have antibodies to dengue. In total, 28 people were diagnosed with dengue fever in this outbreak.

    Dengue fever is common in at least 100 countries in Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean. Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia have all reported an increase in cases.

    According to the CDC, there are an estimated 100 million cases of dengue fever with several hundred thousand cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever requiring hospitalization each year. Nearly 40% of the world's population lives in an area endemic with dengue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 22,000 deaths occur yearly, mostly among children.

    How is dengue fever contracted?

    The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. The mosquito flourishes during rainy seasons but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, and cans year-round. One mosquito bite can cause the disease.

    The virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. There must be a person-to-mosquito-to-another-person pathway.

    What are dengue fever symptoms and signs?

    After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, the incubation period ranges from three to 15 (usually five to eight) days before the signs and symptoms of dengue appear in stages. Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly as high as 104 F (40 C), with relatively low heart rate (bradycardia) and low blood pressure (hypotension). The eyes become reddened. A flushing or pale pink rash comes over the face and then disappears. The lymph nodes in the neck and groin are often swollen.

    Fever and other signs of dengue last for two to four days, followed by a rapid drop in body temperature (defervescence) with profuse sweating. This precedes a period with normal temperature and a sense of well-being that lasts about a day. A second rapid rise in temperature follows. A characteristic rash appears along with the fever and spreads from the extremities to cover the entire body except the face. The palms and soles may be bright red and swollen.

    How is dengue fever diagnosed?

    The diagnosis of dengue fever is usually made when a patient exhibits the typical clinical symptoms of headache, fever, eye pain, severe muscle aches, and petechial rash and has a history of being in an area where dengue fever is endemic. Dengue fever can be difficult to diagnose because its symptoms overlap with those of many other viral illnesses, such as West Nile virus and chikungunya fever.

    In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a blood test to diagnose people with dengue fever, called the DENV Detect IgM Capture ELISA. The FDA notes that the new test may also give a positive result when a person has a closely related virus, such West Nile disease.

    What is the treatment for dengue fever?

    Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is concerned with relief of the symptoms. Rest and fluid intake for hydration is important. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor's supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and codeine may be given for severe headache and for joint and muscle pain (myalgia).

    Learn more about: Aspirin | Tylenol

    What is the prognosis for typical dengue fever?

    Typical dengue is fatal in less than 1% of cases. The acute phase of the illness with fever and myalgias lasts about one to two weeks. Convalescence is accompanied by a feeling of weakness (asthenia), and full recovery often takes several weeks.

    What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?

    Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock). DHF is also called Philippine, Thai, or Southeast Asian hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

    DHF starts abruptly with high continuous fever and headache. There are respiratory and intestinal symptoms with sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Shock occurs two to six days after the start of symptoms with sudden collapse, cool, clammy extremities (the trunk is often warm), weak pulse, and blueness around the mouth (circumoral cyanosis).

    In DHF, there is bleeding with easy bruising, blood spots in the skin (petechiae), spitting up blood (hematemesis), blood in the stool (melena), bleeding gums, and nosebleeds (epistaxis). Pneumonia is common, and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) may be present.

    Patients with DHF must be monitored closely for the first few days since shock may occur or recur precipitously (dengue shock syndrome). Cyanotic (bluish colored) patients are given oxygen. Vascular collapse (shock) requires immediate fluid replacement. Blood transfusions may be needed to control bleeding.

    The mortality (death) rate with DHF is significant. With proper treatment, the World Health Organization estimates a 2.5% mortality rate. However, without proper treatment, the mortality rate rises to 20%. Most deaths occur in children. Infants under a year of age are especially at risk of dying from DHF.

    What geographic areas are at high risk for contracting dengue fever?

    Dengue is prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics. Outbreaks have occurred recently in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, and Central America. Cases have also been imported via tourists returning from areas with widespread dengue, including Tahiti, Singapore, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, the West Indies, India, and the Middle East (similar in distribution to the areas of the world that harbor malaria and yellow fever). Dengue is now the leading cause of acute febrile illness in U.S. travelers returning from the Caribbean, South America, and Asia.

    Thailand reported the worst dengue outbreak in 20 years, with 126 deaths and 135,344 people infected with the virus, as of October 2013.

    In 2011, Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela reported a large number of dengue cases. Paraguay reported a dengue fever outbreak in 2011, the worst since 2007. Hospitals were overcrowded, and patients had elective surgeries canceled due to the outbreak.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 1946 to 1980, no cases of dengue acquired in the continental United States were reported. Since 1980, a few locally acquired U.S. cases have been confirmed along the Texas-Mexico border, temporally associated with large outbreaks in neighboring Mexican cities.

    A 2009 outbreak of dengue fever in Key West, Fla., involved three patients who did not travel outside of the U.S. contracted the virus. Subsequent testing of the population of Key West has shown that up to 5% of the people living in the area have antibodies to dengue. In total, 28 people were diagnosed with dengue fever in this outbreak.

    Dengue fever is common in at least 100 countries in Asia, the Pacific, the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean. Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia have all reported an increase in cases.

    According to the CDC, there are an estimated 100 million cases of dengue fever with several hundred thousand cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever requiring hospitalization each year. Nearly 40% of the world's population lives in an area endemic with dengue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 22,000 deaths occur yearly, mostly among children.

    How is dengue fever contracted?

    The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. The mosquito flourishes during rainy seasons but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, and cans year-round. One mosquito bite can cause the disease.

    The virus is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from person to person. There must be a person-to-mosquito-to-another-person pathway.

    What are dengue fever symptoms and signs?

    After being bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus, the incubation period ranges from three to 15 (usually five to eight) days before the signs and symptoms of dengue appear in stages. Dengue starts with chills, headache, pain upon moving the eyes, and low backache. Painful aching in the legs and joints occurs during the first hours of illness. The temperature rises quickly as high as 104 F (40 C), with relatively low heart rate (bradycardia) and low blood pressure (hypotension). The eyes become reddened. A flushing or pale pink rash comes over the face and then disappears. The lymph nodes in the neck and groin are often swollen.

    Fever and other signs of dengue last for two to four days, followed by a rapid drop in body temperature (defervescence) with profuse sweating. This precedes a period with normal temperature and a sense of well-being that lasts about a day. A second rapid rise in temperature follows. A characteristic rash appears along with the fever and spreads from the extremities to cover the entire body except the face. The palms and soles may be bright red and swollen.

    What is dengue hemorrhagic fever?

    Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. It causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock). DHF is also called Philippine, Thai, or Southeast Asian hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome.

    DHF starts abruptly with high continuous fever and headache. There are respiratory and intestinal symptoms with sore throat, cough, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Shock occurs two to six days after the start of symptoms with sudden collapse, cool, clammy extremities (the trunk is often warm), weak pulse, and blueness around the mouth (circumoral cyanosis).

    In DHF, there is bleeding with easy bruising, blood spots in the skin (petechiae), spitting up blood (hematemesis), blood in the stool (melena), bleeding gums, and nosebleeds (epistaxis). Pneumonia is common, and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) may be present.

    Patients with DHF must be monitored closely for the first few days since shock may occur or recur precipitously (dengue shock syndrome). Cyanotic (bluish colored) patients are given oxygen. Vascular collapse (shock) requires immediate fluid replacement. Blood transfusions may be needed to control bleeding.

    The mortality (death) rate with DHF is significant. With proper treatment, the World Health Organization estimates a 2.5% mortality rate. However, without proper treatment, the mortality rate rises to 20%. Most deaths occur in children. Infants under a year of age are especially at risk of dying from DHF.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

    Because dengue fever is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it. For typical dengue, the treatment is concerned with relief of the symptoms. Rest and fluid intake for hydration is important. Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should only be taken under a doctor's supervision because of the possibility of worsening bleeding complications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and codeine may be given for severe headache and for joint and muscle pain (myalgia).

    Learn more about: Aspirin | Tylenol

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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