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Causes and Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Author:   Melida Manzanares

Causes of Dengue Fever

The dengue virus is contracted from the bite of a female mosquito called "Aedes aegypti" (the same mosquito that causes diseases such as Zika virus or Chikungunya), which is located mainly in countries with subtropical and tropical, moist climates anywhere on the planet. Contrary to common thinking, Aedes aegypti does not live only in sewage, in fact its main habitat is in clean water and in water that has been stagnent only a few days.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Symptoms of dengue virus begin to develop an average of 4- 6 days after the mosquito bite, lasting a total of about 15 days. There are three major phases of development of the disease: febrile phase, the critical phase, and the resolution phase. The first symptom of dengue virus always is a fever of unknown origin and can be easily confused with flu, especially in infants.

General signs and symptoms of dengue are:
High fever: 40C (104F)
Severe pain in the joints.
Severe muscle pain.
Persistent headache.
Pain in the eyes.
Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Enlarged lymph nodes (mainly in the neck, armpits and pubis)

There are also symptoms and warning signs of severe dengue, among them are:
Abdominal pain on palpation intensifies.
Bleeding from mucous membranes (mouth, nose)
Excessive vaginal bleeding
Persistent vomiting and no tolerance for food.
Confusion, drowsiness, slowed actions.
Laboratory findings for dengue virus include decrease platelet and hematocrit
Enlarged liver, more than 2 cm above their normal size in imaging tests

Phases of Dengue Fever

Febrile phase: Day 1-5: Characterized by intense, sudden onset fever greater than or equal to 40C (104F). With this fever the patient has acute dehydration, skin and vascular manifestations also associated as petechiae (red spots on the skin are displayed ), and purple bruises. In laboratory tests the hematocrit drops considerably. The most dangerous day of all dengue disease: the first day without a fever, because it is the way to the critical stage and the patient usually thinks he recovered from his illness by the absence of fever.

Critical phase: Day 5-8: The fever subsides and hematocrit increases, but not all is good news, in the examination of blood, platelets decrease abruptly and is something called "plasma extravasation". In practical terms this means a very significant fluid leakage from the inside of blood vessels and organs which can develop complications inherent to this stage as ascites and pleural effusion, so your doctor at this stage will order a chest X-ray to be performed and possibly an ultrasound of the abdomen.

Resolution Phase: days 8-12: At this stage the patient improves patient from the more alarming symptoms (if they had them), vomiting and loss of appetite disappear. The rash may remain well into this phase but eventually the patient returns to optimal health.

Is there a cure for dengue fever?

It is one of the most popular questions in emergency room patients. Unfortunately no syrup, injection or tablet can cure dengue fever. Treatment of this disease is based mainly on controlling the symptoms. It is with antipyretics like Acetametaphin to control body temperature. When dehydration and fever breaks out in the patient, one of the pillars of treatment of dengue is the continuous intake of oral rehydration salts (electrolytes). Different analgesics for pain management, the choice of drug depends on the specific pain intensity of the patient. If the patient has underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic renal disease, etc. basic treatment for their pre-existing disease is not suspended. The most serious symptoms and situation with Dengue is if the patient experiences severe abdominal pain or persistent bleeding, which is a medical emergency and the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately.

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