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What Is Dengue Fever?

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Apr 9, 2021

   8 min     



Dengue (pronounced as DENG-gay) is an infectious viral disease which is transmitted by a type of mosquito named as Aedes aegypti. Typically, this mosquito bites during daylight hours. The condition is also known as breakbone fever or dandy fever.

Is dengue fever a virus? 

Yes, dengue is a viral disease that belongs to the Flaviviridae family of viruses that cause in humans, and it is the most common of all.

Severe dengue was first recognised during dengue epidemics in the Philippines and Thailand somewhere in the 1950s. But today it affects Asian and Latin American countries too causing hospitalisation and deaths among humans in these regions.

Causes of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is caused by Aedes mosquito, which is the primary vector, and sometimes it is also the Aedes albopictus that transmits the viruses. The viruses are passed onto humans that thrive in one and near human lodgings. So, 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 bloodstreams. The virus seems to have no detrimental effect on mosquitoes, which remains unaffected for life.

Phases of Dengue Infections

The clinical course of dengue infections is segregated into three phases: the febrile, critical and recovery.

The febrile phase typically includes high fever over 40 °C or 104 °F and is associated with generalised pain and headaches. Skin rash with dengue fever, nausea and vomiting may also occur in the first or second of the illness or on the following 4-7 days. The heat occurring into this phase can be a saddleback fever or the biphasic fever that remits and appears again.

Some of the patients can proceed to the critical phase in which the leakage of the plasma from the blood vessels can be figured out, lasting one to two days. This phase results in the accumulation of fluids in the chest and the abdominal cavity. This state may also lead to the depletion of fluids from the blood circulation to the vital organs. 

There may also occur severe bleeding and dysfunctioning of the organs, typically from the gastrointestinal tract. Dengue Shock Syndrome and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever occur, but in less than 5% of all the dengue diseases. However, if some other affects the case can be more critical and at risk. The critical phase of dengue fever symptoms in kids and young adults found more.

The next comes the recovery phase with resorption of the leaked fluid in the bloodstream. The improvement in this phase can be severe itching and slow heart rate. The macules rashes can also be seen in this stage which can be characterised by a flat, red area on the skin with small confluent bumps. It is also described as erythematous.

A state of fluid overload may occur, and if it affects the brain, it may lead to unconsciousness or seizures. An inkling of fatigue may be experienced for weeks in adults.

Dengue Fever Symptoms

For people who get sick with dengue, signs and symptoms can be mild or severe. While mild dengue can be treated and resolved easily by taking proper medication, severe dengue can be life-threatening within a few hours and often requires the victim to be hospitalised.

The most common symptoms of dengue fever can be experienced as:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • High fever

  • Headaches and pains (eye pain, typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint or bone pain)

  • Runny nose

  • Mild skin rash

  • Loss of appetite

  • Swollen lymph glands

  • Mild ecchymosis on the skin

  • Febrile seizures

Diagnosis for Dengue Infections

Dengue virus infection carries a broad spectrum of symptoms, many of which are non-specific and ranges from mild to severe,  leading to death. Thus, early intervention is life-saving. 

Before day 5 of illness, which is known as a febrile period, dengue infections may be confirmed by microbiological laboratory testing. This can be done by virus isolation in the cell, by detecting the viral RNA by nucleic acid amplification tests or by detecting the viral antigens, such as for NH1 or specific antibodies(serology). 

Virus isolation and acid amplification may be of greater cost but can provide accurate records than antibodies detection. This detection of isolation can only be performed in laboratories by technical expertise. If one is suffering from persistent fever for two days, he should go for complete body checkup (CHC). If the platelet count and WBC or White Blood Corpuscles count are less than their usual, then he should go for Dengue Antigen Test.

Test for dengue fever antibodies detection include IgG and IgM can be useful in the later stages of the disease. Both the tests can experiment after 5-7 days. 

While IgM is undetectable in 30-90 days from primary infection, but earlier following re-infections, the IgG can be retained over 60 years, and in the absence of symptoms, it can be useful for the past infections. The observation of IgG alone can not be considered as a diagnosis unless the blood samples are collected 14 days apart, and the increase in IgG level is being detected.

Detection of NS1 antigen is perhaps the most vigorous approach of all the DENV diagnostic methods.

Medicine for Dengue Fever

  • The dengue fever incubation period generally lasts for 4-10 days, and it can vary from mild to severe. There is no such medication to prevent dengue fever, but one can have painkillers containing acetaminophen. 

  • The dengue patient must avoid medicines with aspirin because that would worsen the disease, and the patient may get to have serious issues. One should also drink a lot of water to increase the fluidity level of the body and take enough rest.

  • In case, the patient feels worse within the first 24 hours; he must consult the doctor immediately, and might be hospitalised for proper disease control and prevention.

Future Tests

There are many new approaches for a quick dengue diagnosis which is currently under inventions. These can include micro or paper fluidics, in vivo micro patches [S74], isothermal PCR [47], and piezoelectric [S77] and electrochemical [S75, S76] detection. All these are under the early stages of development, and the continued fine-tuning of these experiments are under process to meet the real-life solutions.

Dengue Fever Treatment

There is a vaccine for dengue fever, named Dengvaxia that has been approved in 2019 by FDI and is used for those whose age ranges from 9 to 45, who live in the dengue prone locations. The vaccine is given in 3 doses over the course of twelve months. This vaccine is more achievable and prevents dengue infections slightly more than half the time.

The World Health Organization explains that the vaccine is not an effective treatment to prevent dengue infections on its own, wherein areas the illness is common. The control to the mosquito population and human exposure is still the most critical and challenging part of prevention efforts. 

Home Remedies for Dengue

There are some dengue fever home remedies, apart from the dengue vaccination that anyone can follow to avoid the suffering.

  • The best method to be out of the infections is to simply protect oneself from being bitten by the mosquitoes that carry the viruses.

  • We can eliminate the habitats if we get rid of the open sources of water, or by spraying insecticides or biological control agents.

  • Generalised spraying of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides is also can be termed as effective.

  • People can go for wearing full-sleeved clothes to ensure not getting injected by the mosquito.

  • Clothes with repellants like permethrin, EPA-registered mosquito repellant like DEET should be worn.

  • Using pain relievers with acetaminophen, but avoiding medicines that contain aspirin.

  • Intake of plenty of fluids or coconut water is the best one can do.

  • Always resting with mosquito netting helps a lot from suffering from dengue.

  • Spicy food must also be avoided.


From the research, the Dengue virus is currently a dreadful global disease among the people suffering from health problems. Over 2.5 billion people of the world’s population are in danger from this deadly disease.

The disease has jumped up to its geographical shell and is no longer bound to any region. The annual estimation of dengue infections is around 50 million with an approximation of 500,000 cases of severe infections, out of which 20,000 deaths happen per year.

There are no specific preventive measures, hence has been confined to vector control measures. A dengue vaccine has been found to be a cost-effective intervention to prevent infections. The advanced dengue vaccine pipeline is diverse and overall, a remarkable and promising attempt in the field of science. 

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Tags:  Diagnostic Tests & Results,Home Care,dengue,Dengue fever

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