Given that mosquitoes thrive in tropical climates such as that found in the Philippines, it isn’t surprising to see that dengue spreads easily, especially during the rainy season of May to November. In fact, the Department of Health (DOH) has reported that the national case count of more than 200,000 — is almost twice of the previous year’s!
As a result, now more than ever is a crucial time to familiarize yourselves with some important details you need to know about this infectious disease:
What is dengue?
Dengue is a mosquito-borne illness that is transmitted via mosquito bites. The disease is generally spread when a mosquito feeds on an infected person, causing the mosquito to become a virus carrier. When the infected mosquito bites another person, the virus then enters that person’s bloodstream and repeats the cycle.
What are the symptoms of dengue?
Symptoms of dengue may vary in severity and typically appear between four to ten days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. These may include headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, pain behind the eyes, swollen glands, and a rash.
Some severe cases of dengue may also cause high fevers of 40°C and above. Warning signs of a severe dengue fever may appear within the first two days after the initial fever goes away and should be treated as a life-threatening emergency. Such signs may include severe stomach pain; persistent vomiting; bleeding from your gums and nose; blood in urine, stool, or vomit; bleeding or bruising under the skin; difficulty in breathing; fatigue; and/or irritability or restlessness.
When left unchecked, extreme cases of hemorrhagic dengue fever may result in damaged blood vessels, which may lead to shock, internal bleeding, organ failure, and death.
How can dengue be treated?
To this day, no specific treatment for dengue has been developed. Instead, medication such as over-the-counter (OTC) drug acetaminophen or paracetamol may help to alleviate symptoms like muscle pain and fever. It should be noted, however, that pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium should be avoided since these may increase the risk of dengue fever bleeding complications.
In cases of severe dengue fevers, hospital treatment is recommended to administer intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolyte replacement, blood pressure monitoring, and blood transfusions should they be needed.
How can dengue be prevented?
Prevention of disease is always better than the cure, so here are some easy tips on how you can protect yourself from dengue:
1. Keep your house clean and tidy.
Avoid leaving trash inside and outside your house to prevent mosquitoes from gathering. Since the insects tend to gather around standing water, it is also best to cover and clean water containers such as pet bowls and flower vases, which may serve as mosquito breeding grounds.
2. Wear protective clothing.
In order to lessen the chance of mosquitos biting you, it is advisable to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially during the rainy season when mosquitoes are more likely to thrive.
3. Make use of mosquito repellents and insecticides.
Citronella and other citrus oils are known to be excellent insect repellents. Other than those, it may also be good to purchase a mosquito coil for your home. After all, if there are no mosquitoes biting you, then your chances of getting dengue drastically decrease.
If you think you need immediate medical attention, you may contact Cardinal Santos Medical Center’s Emergency Department at (02) 8727-1001, local 3504, or (02) 8727-0052.