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Dengue: What you need to know


The alarming rise in cases of dengue across cities in the country has become an increasing cause of worry. Recently, the death of 80-year-old legendary Bollywood director Yash Chopra from dengue has once again highlighted that the vector disease is not only a poor man's illness. All income classes are vulnerable. Dengue can be fatal, particularly for children and the elderly who are low on immunity.  It now more important than ever to be aware of the risk factors, and protect yourself. Prevention in this case, is truly better than cure.

Experts say dengue fever usually starts within a week of the infection. Symptoms include high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, pain in the joints and muscles, nausea and vomiting, and rashes on the skin.

 Dengue: Symptoms, causes and treatment

What is dengue?

Dengue is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person, i.e., is not contagious. A person can only become infected by the bite of a mosquito that is infected with the dengue virus. It is important to note that these mosquitoes bite during the daytime as well as nighttime. 

Symptoms

Dengue usually begins with chills, headache, pain while moving the eyes, and backache. Persistent high fever is characteristic of dengue. Other symptoms to watch out for are exhaustion, backache, joint pains, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure and rash.

Treatment

Because dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific treatment for it; treatment of dengue is typically concerned only with the relief of symptoms. People who show the symptoms mentioned above should immediately consult a physician. It is important to drink plenty of fluids, stay hydrated, and get as much rest as possible.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF)

DHF is a more severe form of dengue and can be fatal if untreated. It tends to affect children under the age of ten, and causes abdominal pain, hemorrhage (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).

Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent dengue. Prevention of dengue requires eradication of the mosquitoes that carry this virus. The best way to prevent dengue is to check stagnation of water. The dengue-causing mosquito, Aedes Aegypti, breeds only in fresh water. 

Water pools, flower pots, excess water dripping from air-conditioners, water collected in old tyres and open water containers should be checked, for these are possible sites for mosquito breeding. Lidless western closets and open gutters can also serve as breeding grounds for the Aedes Aegypti.  If your area is infested with mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, use mosquito repellants and fumigate if necessary.

According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, a total of 17,104 people have been affected by dengue in the country till September and 100 deaths have been caused by the disease across the country this year (2012).

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