Q. What is dengue fever?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset that usually follows a benign course with symptoms such as headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands (lymphadenopathy), and rash.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a more severe form of the viral illness. Symptoms include headache, fever, rash, and evidence of hemorrhage in the body. Petechia (small red or purple splotches or blisters under the skin), bleeding in the nose or gums, black stools, or easy bruising is all possible signs of hemorrhage. This form of dengue fever can be life-threatening and can progress to the most severe form of the illness, dengue shock syndrome.
Q. What are the symptoms I should watch out for?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: Dengue fever is just like any other high grade fever with body aches, headaches, pain behind eyes, nausea, and vomiting and body rash. The rashes are itchy and usually appear after three to four days of fever onset or after cessation of fever.
Onset of following three symptoms: abdominal pain, profuse vomiting and difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath- in a case of dengue fever may suggest onset of complications of dengue fever and warrants urgent medical attention.
Q. Can I be infected with dengue twice in my lifetime?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: Yes, you may. There are 4 subtypes of dengue virus. Getting infected from one of these subtypes immunizes you from re-infection from that particular subtype. However you can still have re-infection from any of rest of the dengue subtypes. Such cases of re-infection, by different subtype of dengue virus, have more chances of having complications.
Q. Is dengue contagious?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: Dengue is a vector borne disease, ie transmitted by bite of infected mosquito. It does not spreads directly from human to human; however if there are cases of established dengue in your vicinity, its all the more essential to be vigilant about mosquito presence around you and carry out personal protection measures.
Q. Is there a vaccine to combat dengue?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: As of today, there is no vaccine against Dengue.
Q.What food(s) should I eat when I have dengue?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: There is no strict diet regimen for dengue. The only thing one should remember in a case of suspected or established dengue fever is to maintain or increase your fluid intake (water, coconut water, apple juice etc) more than your usual times. Ayurveda also suggests use of juice made from green leaves of papaya for use in dengue fever, though it is quite bitter in taste.
Q. What mosquito repellent should I use? For adults / children / infants?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: For babies less than 6 months, use baby mosquito nets. One may light citronella candles to ward off mosquitoes in your baby's room. You may also use hand bands and patches, containing natural essential oils of citronella etc, commercially available in the market.
For adults and children more than 6 months, any mosquito repellents available in market containing either DEET or natural oils may be used.
Q. What are the ways to ensure protection against Dengue?
Dr Siddhesh Pandey: The most important thing is not to have any fresh standing water in and near our household as the vector mosquito for dengue fever breeds in clean stagnant water. Some of these sites in household are flower pots, water containers /buckets in washrooms or kitchen, open coolers/containers, particularly in house roofs, with stagnant rainwater from recent rains.
The second important thing is to wear full length clothes to protect from mosquito bite.
Please also use mosquito repellents as far as possible every 8-12 hours.
If you find breeding of mosquitoes near your household, please contact your RWA for arrangement of fumigation
(Dr Siddhesh Pandey is a renowned Radiologist and a Director with EZ Life Enterprise Private Limited. He heads the department of Radiology in Alchemist Hospital Gurgaon and proprietor of NCR Polyclinic and Diagnostic /Ultrasound Centre in South-city II. He can be contacted on [email protected] and 9811349010)