Dengue fever is a common infectious disease in the South-East region. In other words, dengue fever is common in countries with hot humid tropical climates. In Malaysia alone, dengue fever usually spikes after the rainy season or flood. You may have already known that dengue fever is caused by the Aedes mosquito but have you actually wondered how dengue fever occurs? It is good to know how dengue fever is caused and how it affects humans. This can help you understand what to do if you or someone you know is suspected of having dengue fever and hopefully take prevention measures that will benefit you and everyone around.
Dengue fever is caused by the mosquito bites of the Aedes mosquito. There’s a catch to this. Not all Aedes mosquitoes are able to infect humans with the dengue virus. Only the female Aedes mosquito is able to spread dengue virus to humans. In addition to this, only infected Aedes mosquitoes are able to do this. An Aedes mosquito is said to be infected when it bites a human with dengue virus circulating in the human blood. When the mosquito bites and feeds off the blood infested with the dengue virus, the mosquito is now infected with dengue virus. Thus, when this infected mosquito bites other humans, it releases the dengue virus into the human body. The person now is deemed to be infected with dengue.
The way how dengue fever is caused and spread explains why dengue fever is a transmittable disease. Furthermore, when the mosquito is infected, it has the capability of carrying the virus and continues to transmit the virus to humans for the rest of the mosquito’s life. This is why dengue is known as the fastest spreading viral mosquito-borne disease.
A person infected with dengue virus may not show any symptoms especially when the infection is mild. As a matter of fact, 80% of the population that has been exposed to dengue virus do not have any symptoms or in other word, asymptomatic. Dengue fever is usually suspected when a person experiences high grade fever that lasts 2 to 7 days. Other symptoms include headaches with pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital headaches), muscle pain (myalgia), joint pain (arthralgia), vomiting, nausea and skin rash. It is important to get checked for dengue fever when a person has any of the symptoms even if it seems mild. This is because dengue fever may be mistaken as a harmless condition when the truth is it can easily lead to life-threatening conditions.
Some people may mistake a person as having already healed from dengue infection when a person’s fever or symptoms are invisible from the 3rd to 7th after the first dengue symptoms. At this point, people tend to think there is nothing wrong but this is actually the most crucial phase known as the critical phase. Critical phase may lead a person to think they do not need any medical advice but it is at this point that it could lead to severe dengue or even death. Critical phase lasts for 24 to 48 hours. Hence, it is best to get checked for dengue infection and if a person needs to stay in the hospital, they should stay because if there is anything wrong that happens during this critical phase, patients will be able to get immediate medical support.
If a person has symptoms of sudden abdominal pain, bleeding gums or nose, persistent vomiting more than 3 times in 24 hours, vomiting blood, breathing difficulty and fatigue, these should be signs of an emergency and patients need to be in the emergency room or call an ambulance for immediate medical attention. These may be signs of severe dengue that may end up with complications or death when it is not treated promptly.
In essence, dengue fever is caused by the infected female Aedes mosquito bites another human. The mosquito is only said to be infected when it bites humans that have been infected by dengue virus. In order to reduce the chances for getting infected by the dengue virus, it is important to take preventative measures. This includes eliminating the adult mosquitoes by using insecticides, eliminating the medium for the mosquito to breed by making sure no container that could hold water or if you want to have water reserve, make sure to change water and keep the inside of the container clean for at least once a week and last but not least, to minimise skin exposure to mosquito bites such as wearing long-sleeve clothes, using special medicated locations and to sleep or take nap in bed covered with mosquito nets. Although preventative measures may not provide 100% protection against dengue fever, it is necessary to take this step as it can help protect you and your loved one, especially those vulnerable such as old people and babies from being affected by dengue virus. Remember to get checked by doctors no matter how mild the dengue symptoms are.